On to the next one.
After downing the Hoosiers 102-90 in a game that saw Anthony Davis sit the majority of the first half with foul trouble and Indiana shoot a crazy 52-percent from the field, the Cats move on to the Elite Eight to face the Baylor Bears.
Despite the fact that Baylor started the season 17-0, has 30 wins, and all seven of their losses (Missouri 3x, Kansas 2x, Kansas State, Iowa State) are against NCAA Tournament teams, a lot of national pundits still doubt this team. But, talent-wise there isn’t a team in the country that matches up with the Wildcats like the Bears do.
The Bears average 75 points per game and have an extremely balanced scoring attack. They have five guys averaging double figures and our led by junior point guard Pierre Jackson (5-10, 180) with 13.6 per game. The diminutive guard has the ability to get into the lane and create for others, but if you play off of him he can shoot it from deep. He leads the team with 5.9 assists per game and is second on the team with 68 threes. He shoots it at an impressive 42-percent clip from beyond the arc.
Their best threat from deep is sophomore guard Brady Heslip (6-2, 180) and dude is getting a lot of play for the sick numbers he’s putting up in the dance. In three games he has knocked down 17 threes, shooting a crazy 17-for-30. In their third round game against Colorado he knocked down a crazy nine threes. The sophomore out of Ontario has connected on 99 threes this year and is shooting 45-percent from distance. He is averaging just over ten points and is strictly a three-point specialist as 99 of his 125 field goals have come from beyond the arc.
If he gets hot, Heslip has the ability to keep the Bears in games by himself.
Their most talented player is sophomore forward Perry Jones (6-11, 235). The sophomore came to Baylor as one of the most highly recruited players in the country and in two seasons with the Bears he has consistently impressed people with his crazy athleticism. He combines that athleticism with soft hands in the post and Jackson loves to find his big guy in the post. He loves to shoot it and his quick leaping ability makes it difficult for opponents to defend him. He has guard skills for someone of his size. He can knock down the 17-footer and has great court vision and can handle the basketball.
One issue with Jones is his reliance on his athletic ability. Far too often he takes off plays defensively and when rebounding, instead of blocking out he relies strictly on his leaping ability. When he chooses to guard, he is a good on-ball defender.
Quincy Acy (6-8, 230) is their beast underneath. The kid finishes strong and while Jones takes plays off, Acy does not. He plays hard all of the time and I expect him to go right at Anthony Davis in an attempt to get him in foul trouble. He is a tremendous finisher and knows how to score the basketball on the block.
Also look for Anthony Jones to provide the Bears with some production off the bench. The senior was a starter on the 2010 team that made a run to the Elite Eight and does not want to see his career come to a close. That is evident of his increased production during their tournament run. In their second round game against South Dakota State, the Bears fell behind 19-7 and it was Anthony Jones that helped them make the run to gain control of the game. He is a lefty and is difficult to defend because of his length and his ability to score it away from the basket.
This Baylor team is a confident bunch and their plethora of options on offense makes it difficult for defenses to shut them down. They are versatile enough to go through Perry Jones, their guards or Quincy Acy in the post. They are tough to defend.
On defense, this team takes off way too many possessions off and that is why I think Kentucky will win this thing. Too often that sit in that 2-3 zone and just stand around. Their nonchalantness on defense has actually became one of their calling cards. If the defend for 40 minutes, it will be tough for anyone in the country to beat them.
Like I said in the open, if you’re looking for a team to match-up talent-wise with Kentucky, Baylor is one of your best options. I just don’t like them enough on defense to say that they can knock off a Kentucky team that plays defense. Even though the ‘Cats gave up 90 to the Hoosiers yesterday.
I’m going Kentucky in another high scoring affair.
Kentucky 82, Baylor 74
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: