More Love for Udoh
Ekpe Udoh made a name for himself during Baylor's run to the Elite Eight, averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 blocks for the Bears. His performances against Saint Mary's and Duke in last week's NCAA South Regional semifinals and finals in Houston earned him All-Second Weekend Team honors by SI.com's Luke Winn.
The Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond also took note of Udoh's and LaceDarius Dunn's collective performances...DeArmond put both Udoh and Dunn on his Real All-Big 12 first team.
The Hoop Scoop Names Drew National Coach of the Year
Baylor head coach Scott Drew was named National Coach of the Year by The Hoop Scoop after leading the Bears to their first Elite Eight appearance in the modern tournament era. Baylor (28-8) established a new school record for overall and Big 12 victories to finish tied for second in the league after being picked 10th in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll.
Earlier this month, Drew was named to Yahoo! Sports' All-Coaches second team and Big 12 Coach of the Year by Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Waco Tribune-Herald.
Udoh: Defensive All-American
Baylor's record-setting shot blocker and defensive Nightmare, Ekpe Udoh, can add another honor to his already-lengthy list of postseason awards Wednesday. Udoh was one of 20 players named to the 2010 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American Team by CollegeInsider.com. The 2010 Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award will be presented April 2 at the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Udoh established new Baylor and Big 12 Conference single-season records with 133 blocked shots, shattering the previous marks. The Edmond, Okla., native is one of four Big 12 players on the Defensive All-American Team, joining Kansas' Cole Aldrich, Texas' Damion James and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen.
On Tuesday, Udoh was named honorable mention All-American by the AP.
A Culture-Changing Performance
Seven years ago when head coach Scott Drew took over the Baylor men's basketball program, he wanted to lift the Bears to an elite status - the "Duke of the Southwest", if you will. The greatest season of Baylor basketball in the last 60 years came to an unfortunate end Sunday in Houston and just four minutes away from a trip to Indianapolis.
Sadly for the 30,000-plus Baylor fans and the Baylor basketball team, the Bears walked off the Reliant Stadium floor defeated. All the hard work. The blood, sweat and tears in the preseason. It was mostly tears postgame. As we stood in the lockerroom afterwards, it was tough watching the end of an unbelievable season actually end.
And end just one win away from the Final Four.
The reclamation project Coach Drew and staff started in 2003 can officially be deemed complete with the Bears making the round of eight in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1950. After flying under the radar for a great part of the season, the nation became acquainted with one of the most unheralded point guards in the nation in Tweety Carter. Baylor will certainly miss Tweety, but his impact on the Bears' return to prominence will never be forgotten.
Ekpe Udoh burst onto the scene during the non-conference part of the season and remainded one of Baylor's offensive and defensive focal points all year long. Udoh finished the season as the Baylor and Big 12 Conference single-season blocked shots record holder.
He's no longer Waco's best-kept secret. LaceDarius Dunn proved on a national stage that he can score at will. He finished his junior season as the fourth all-time leading scorer at Baylor and is on track to overtake Terry Teagle as Baylor's career scoring leader.
We all know how good Lace Dunn is. But the rest of country didn't know until Dunn averaged 21.0 points in four NCAA tournament games...Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has called Dunn "the best '2' guard in the nation, bar none".
But the departure of seniors Carter and Josh Lomers doesn't meet Baylor's run is shortlived. The seniors only helped lift the Baylor program to a new level.
Three consecutive 20-win seasons.
Three consecutive postseason appearances.
Carter and Lomers have helped build a legacy at Baylor and change the men's basketball culture - one which we hope continues for many years along the banks of the Brazos River.
40 Minutes Away
The first Elite Eight appearance in the modern tournament era...with a berth in the program's third Final Four in school history. The Bears are 40 minutes away from Indianapolis. Saturday, Butler and West Virginia punched their tickets to Indy with wins over Kansas State and Kentucky, respectively.
Now it's up to Baylor as the only Big 12 Conference school remaining the NCAA tournament.
Baylor and Duke are the only schools with both its men's and women's teams still playing in the NCAA tournament...and wouldn't you know, they are playing each other on both sides. That, according to STATS LLC, is the first time that two schools have met in the round of eight in both tournaments during the same season.
40 minutes away...
If Baylor wins today, they will become the 15th team in NCAA history to make a final four appearance in the NIT and NCAA tournaments in back-to-back seasons. In fact, City College of New York (CCNY) won the NIT and NCAA in the same season (1950).
Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams, Baylor would be just the third school to accomplish the feat - Louisville (1985 NIT, 1986 NCAA) and Syracuse (2002 NIT, 2003 NCAA).
Last year at this time, we mentioned that Baylor was in its finest hour of the modern tournament era. Today's South Regional final vs. Duke is the biggest game in modern Baylor basketball history (post-1950).
Friday's attendance soared over 45,000 strong at Reliant Stadium. Today's Regional final crowd could break 50,000 and challenge the NCAA Regional attendance record of 57,563 set for the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional Final at Ford Field (Kansas 59, Davidson 57).
We're just 40 minutes away...
Bears Now in Elite Company
For the fourth time in school history, Baylor is in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
For the fourth time in school history, Baylor is one win away from the Final Four.
But, for the first time in school history, Baylor is in the Elite Eight in the modern era of the NCAA tournament.
Once picked to finish 10th in the Big 12 preseason coaches' poll, the Bears are now one of only eight teams standing in the NCAA tournament. That's pretty elite company.
And the Bears will now face one of the greatest programs in college basketball history - the Duke Blue Devils.
LaceDarius Dunn is no longer scoring in anonymity. Dunn set the Baylor single-season scoring record, while also moving into fourth place on the career list to carry Baylor to a 72-49 throttling of the Cinderella Saint Mary's Gaels Saturday night. If you thought that performance was awesome, wait until you see the showdown between the nation's two best scoring trios - Duke's John Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith (53.1 points per game) vs. Baylor's Dunn, Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh (48.4).
Everyone's abuzz following Baylor's systematic dismantling of the Gaels. Many media members were very impressed with Baylor's performance Friday night. But then again, the Bears haven't been the overwhelming favorites in their last two games.
Here's a look around the nation in SATURDAY MORNING HEADLINES:
One last thing: 45,505 fans witnessed the NCAA South Regional semifinals at Reliant Stadium last night...Nearly 20,000 (if not more) were wearing green and gold.
Now, the Bears are just one win away from their third Final Four.
A 'Who's Who' of Baylor Nation
This weekend's NCAA South Regional is the second-largest regional attendance (over 44,000) in NCAA history. It will be the largest crowd ever to watch a Baylor basketball game, smashing the previous high attendance (19,100 in 2000 and 2001 Big 12 Championships in Kansas City).
On top of that, the NCAA South Regional is the only regional site with a Final Four setup this season. That means: Reliant Stadium is the only site with a raised center court. Next year, the Final Four will be held at Reliant.
How many of the 44,000-plus will be donning green and gold? Not sure on an exact number, but estimates indicate anywhere from 10-15K. Former players and coaches as well as alumni and current student-athletes are expected. Both the Baylor volleyball and track and field teams - both in Houston for competitions at Rice - will be at Reliant Stadium tonight as well as head football coach Art Briles.
Even former assistant and current North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll is in Houston for the Sweet 16.
As the city of Houston and the state of Texas (and the nation, for that matter) continues to be engulfed in everything Baylor Mania, here's a look at FRIDAY'S HEADLINES:
A Reliable Reliant Semifinal Fan Guide
As we near the 6:27 p.m. CDT tip between the Baylor Bears and Saint Mary's Gales in the NCAA South Regional Semifinals (aka Sweet 16), here's a few things you should know about today's happenings:
We mentioned this last night, but just to review: More than 44,000 tickets have been sold for the NCAA South Regional in Houston this weekend. We are expecting 10-15K Baylor fans alone in H-town.
It's a good day to be a Baylor fan.
Reaching Rockstar Status
Baylor mania is beginning to reach an all-time high with the NCAA South Regional semifinals less than 24 hours away...3,000 tickets were sold through the Baylor Ticket Office (not taking into consideration tickets purchased online) and we've been told that more than 44,000 tickets have been sold as of this afternoon. Of the 44,000+ sold thus far, we estimate 10-15K are Baylor fans.
Fans will notice a different look and feel for Friday and Sunday's games at Reliant Stadium. For starters, the playing floor is in the middle of the 70,000-seat stadium and is raised up so that you can see the floor easily from every seat. It's a little different than the 10,284-seat Ferrell Center, but with the large contingent of Baylor fans heading to Reliant Stadium, the Bears should have a sizable homecourt advantage.
In similar fashion to last week's first and second rounds in New Orleans, Baylor players and head coach Scott Drew answered questions from the media before hitting the Reliant Stadium court for a 50-minute open practice. Approximately 1,000 fans were in attendance to watch the Bears practice...which ended with an impromptu dunk contest among some of the players. As the Bears were walking off the floor, they stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures with Baylor fans.
If you have a ticket for Friday's Baylor game at Reliant...
INSIDE BAYLOR SPORTS' SWEET 16 SPECIAL
Don't forget to wear your green and gold for "Green and Gold Day" Friday in Waco...or wherever you may be.
Baylor Nation Has Arrived in Drewston
The drive from Waco to Houston should only take about three hours on a good. Well that three-hour bus ride felt like an eternity as the Baylor Bears arrived in Houston (hereforth known as Drewston) around 8:45 p.m. What took so long?
Send-Off Rally at the SUB.
So what did Mayor DuPuy have to tell the team? Well, Friday is Green and Gold Day - the Greater Waco Chamber encourages fans to support the Baylor basketball teams by wearing green and gold. Is a Quincy Acy dunk going to grace one of the city water towers soon? Maybe so.
After the team signed autographs, the bus - with Baylor campus police escort - arrived at the Bill Daniels Student Center in time for the 5:30 p.m. send-off rally. The team nominated LaceDarius Dunn to speak to the throngs of Baylor fans at the SUB. Lace, a man of many words, briefly thanked the crowd before passing off the mic to freshman A.J. Walton. The crowd then sang the alma mater, That Good Old Baylor Line, in unison before a hearty Sic 'Em, Bears sent the team off to Houston.
Upon arriving in Drewston, the Bears enjoyed a nice dinner at Maggiano's before concluding the night at their team hotel.
CAN'T MAKE IT TO HOUSTON? NO PROBLEM
Tell our boys over at ISP - Doug McNamee, Matt Iazzetti and Mitch Mann - that FCP sent you...
SPURS SIGN JERRELLS
Last we've heard...
We believe we are nearing the 45,000-ticket sold mark at Reliant Stadium. We won't know for sure until the next few days, but we believe there will be a very large green and gold contingent at Reliant. With that said, Ferrell Center South (aka Reliant) is not your average basketball venue. You've gotta remember - it is a football stadium first. So you will be set a little farther back from the action than normal. With that said...get used to the view because this an NCAA Final Four setup. Plus, Reliant Stadium is the site of the 2011 NCAA Final Four.
Two more before we go...
ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan takes an excellent view of Baylor Nation's excitement over the Sweet 16...by interviewing former players from the last five decades. Very good stuff.
ESPN college basketball experts Jay Bilas, Fran Fraschilla, Joe Lunardi and Jay Williams fielded eight burning questions about the Sweet 16. All you need to know: all four picked Baylor to win.
One day at a time...one game at a time.
We're entering one of Baylor's finest hours, Baylor Nation. It's time to Sic 'Em.
Underdogs Then, Still the UnderBears Now
Do you remember where you were this time last year? We do. In what has become a theme of sorts for us over the last week or so, just think back to this time last year...NIT quarterfinals at a very hostile Beard-Eaves Coliseum in Auburn, Ala.
This week, the Baylor Bears (27-7), which are a No. 3 seed in the South Region, are making their first Sweet 16 trip in school history* and are looking to continue their impressive season when they face No. 10 Saint Mary's Friday at Reliant Stadium.
* Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, this is Baylor's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance. When Baylor made the Final Four in 1948 and 1950, the field was then just eight teams.
Before Friday's NCAA South Regional semifinal, the Baylor-Saint Mary's clash almost happened TWICE before. If you're a little confused, here's how it almost happened (twice) - both last season:
At the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., the Bears and the Gaels were on opposite ends of the bracket, but with a win here or a win there, Baylor would have gotten its first in-game look at Saint Mary's.
Who can forget Baylor's magical NIT run last year? We can't. It was almost a Baylor-Saint Mary's NIT semifinal showdown at Madison Square Garden. Instead, San Diego State handed Saint Mary's a 70-66 loss in San Diego.
What could have been between Baylor and Saint Mary's isn't nearly as attractive and exciting as Friday's Sweet 16 showdown.
Don't forget to cheer on your Baylor Bears this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. during the BaylorNation Send-Off Rally at the Bill Daniels Student Center.
Hey, BaylorNation...Are You 'Amazing'?
Before you ask us 'what's up with your title?'...we'll tell you what's up:
ESPN and HP are calling all Baylor fans: As the Bears competes for a slice of the NCAA men's basketball national championship, Baylor fans have the chance to rally the fan troops and put Baylor in the top spot of ESPN and HP's "Amazing 16" contest.
Here's the skinny -
What? ESPN is teaming up with HP to challenge fans of the Sweet 16 schools to prove their school spirit and show just how amazing their fans are.
How? Fans go here and - by sharing photos, posting messages and answering poll questions - they accumulate points for their favorite Sweet 16 school. The top two schools with the most fandom points (no matter their NCAA tournament ranking) will be announced on Sunday, April 4, and will battle for the ultimate fan bragging rights.
Why? The college or university generating the most participation in the "Amazing 16" will win a contribution of $100,000 in cash and technology products for their school.
When? The "Amazing 16" race kicks off Tuesday, March 23, at 11 a.m. CDT.
Details? ESPN Anchor Scott Van Pelt will offer insights throughout the contest. The program is a part of HP's "Let's Do Amazing" campaign, which celebrates the amazing things people do with technology in collaboration with the world's largest technology company.
As if you needed any more motivation to join in...Baylor graduate Mark Hurd is CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
Baylor - as a whole - is Greater than the Sum of its Parts
We'll get to that in a moment.
Within the last few hours, we were informed that more than 40,000 tickets have been sold for this weekend's NCAA South Regional at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Just how big will BaylorNation be this weekend? We're hopeful that it will be in the thousands as the No. 3 seeded Bears are practically playing in their backyard.
Metaphorically speaking, of course. For Baylor, it is our backyard. Saint Mary's College of California, a private school affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and located in Moraga, Calif., is approximately 1,920 miles northwest of Houston (a roughly 28-hour car ride). Waco, as you know, is only a three-hourish drive down Highway 6 to H-town.
The Bears, which have set a new school record for victories (27) with its first Sweet 16 appearance in school history, were the trendy Final Four pick when the bracket was revealed. This week, Baylor is going up against everyone's new favorite trendy pick, Saint Mary's, which is led by NCAA tournament sensation Omar Samhan.
With the advent of everything new media - Twitter, Facebook, etc. - it's hard for the Baylor Bears to avoid the spotlight. Before their Sweet 16 berth in 2010, Baylor hadn't had much postseason success in the NCAA tournament since their successful Final Four runs in 1948 and 1950. It was a much simpler time then - and a much smaller tournament field. Simply put: when the Bears made the 1946, 1948 and 1950 NCAA tournaments...they were already in the Elite Eight! So that little '*' next to Baylor's first Sweet 16 in program history serves a very important purpose. Thanks to YouTube, we were able to find a five-minute silent highlight reel from the 1948 NCAA final between Baylor and Kentucky. We highly suggest you checking it out...
This time last year...
Now back to the present...
Baylor is more than just the Louisianimals in the backcourt, Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn. All season long, Baylor has come up big when it needed to. And other Bears have stepped up in big situations when Tweety, Lace and Ekpe Udoh didn't have to. For example: see Josh Lomers' career game vs. Old Dominion.
The bottom line is this...
As a whole, Baylor is greater than the sum of its parts. Tweety's Big 12-leading assists total; the scoring machine that is Lace Dunn; Udoh's record-breaking season; the second-tallest team in the nation...All those things don't add up to a 27-7 record and a Sweet 16 berth. There are a lot more intangibles underneath the surface that have led to Baylor's current status in the NCAA tournament.
UDOH FEATURED IN LATEST SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, HITS NEWSSTANDS WEDNESDAY
FOR ALL YOUR SWEET 16 NEWS, NOTABLES AND QUOTABLES...Check out our game preview and Sweet 16 postseason media notes here.
How Sweet Is It?
It is so sweet that we couldn't even blog after Baylor clinched its first trip to the Sweet 16 in program history. One more win and Baylor will match its NCAA tournament wins total from the first 103 years. That's how sweet it is.
Now the Bears will face the Saint Mary's Gaels from Moraga, Calif. The Gaels (28-5) earned a trip to the 'Big Dance' by walloping the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game. It's all about March Madness.
How sweet is it? We have to block off two hours for media interviews today. Head coach Scott Drew will have a teleconference for national media this afternoon before he and select players (Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Quincy Acy, Ekpe Udoh and Josh Lomers) take the stage for Q&As with local media in the Ferrell Center.
From the time the Bears returned home to Waco Sunday, Coach Drew has fielded interview requests with FOXSports Radio, ESPNews, ESPN Radio, Stephen A. Smith, ESPN Radio Chicago, Jim Rome Radio and the Brian Kenny Show on ESPN Radio. And that's just some of the interviews he's done.
That's how sweet it is. And the ride has only begun.
Now it's time for us to get back to working on our Sweet 16 Postseason Media Almanac.
This Time Last Year...
At this very moment last year, Baylor was boarding a charter plane in Roanoke, Va., heading back to Waco after demolishing Virginia Tech, 84-66, in the second round of the NIT in Blacksburg. That was Baylor's second of three postseason wins in seven days that helped push Baylor to Madison Square Garden and the NIT championship game.
This time last year...Baylor was 22-14 and riding an impressive postseason run. LaceDarius Dunn hadn't hit the 1,000-point career plateau yet. Today, Dunn has a chance to crack the top five in career scoring at Baylor. This time last year...Ekpe Udoh was sitting out the season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Today, Udoh could continue to etch his name in Baylor lore with another dominating performance.
A year later, Baylor - in the second round of a postseason tournament - will play a school from Virginia. This time last year, it was the NIT and Virginia Tech. This go around, it's the NCAA Tournament and Old Dominion.
This time last year...the Bears were playing at a non-neutral site (Blacksburg, Va.). This year, Baylor, which is some 530 miles from New Orleans, will essentially play a home game in front of the families of Louisiana natives Tweety Carter and Dunn. The Bears could have a considerable home-court advantage.
Just remember where the Bears were this time last year...
And then look at today.
It's time to Survive and Advance.
Will Another Chapter Be Written Today?
Prior to Baylor's first-round win Thursday over Sam Houston State, the Bears' last NCAA Tournament victory came in 1950 over BYU - a win that catapulted BU into the West Regional Final and a spot in the NCAA Final Four (then an eight-team field). Two years before that, Baylor won two games to advance to the National Championship game in New York City against Kentucky in 1948.
Today, a second win by Baylor will send the Bears to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. Thursday's win was the biggest in 60 years. Saturday's win would trump that.
Baylor's national rise to prominence hasn't gone unnoticed. Just search for a few key words and you'll find a bevy of stories from local, state and national outlets. Some great. Some not so much. SATURDAY'S HEADLINE SYNOPSIS:
A win today, of course, would put Baylor one step closer to a goal only four out of the 347 NCAA Division I teams can attain - a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
In six hours, the Bears could be one step closer to reality.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
Friday's beginning was almost identical to that of Wednesday. With the lone exception of Baylor's special guests during breakfast, the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears were back to business Friday, visiting with several local and national media outlets before a closed practice at New Orleans Arena.
Like Wednesday, Friday's Q&A session centered around Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh. Just how popular are Tweety and Lace? We can't walk down the streets of the Vieux Carre (colloquially known as the French Quarter) without someone mentioning 'Baylor', 'Tweety' and/or 'Lace'. We're quite convinced that if Tweety does lead the Bears to the Sweet 16 and beyond, there might very well be a statue erected in his honor somewhere in the New Orleans metro area.
If you don't know by now his demeanor or importance to this team, then you may want to peruse these articles that came out today:
ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan: Don't let his name fool you
Sporting News' Mike Decourcy: Tweety playing large for Baylor these days
Once Baylor exhausted its 40-minute window of media obligations, the Bears held a closed practice at New Orleans Arena before returning to the hotel in the afternoon. From there, we joined The Voice of the Baylor Bears John Morris and Inside Baylor Sports' Robert Shiekh on the streets of New Orleans to film portions of Sunday's IBS show. Per our suggestions, The Voice and Shiekh filmed stand-ups on the banks of the Mississippi River along the "Moonwalk" (top photo) and across St. Peters Street from Jackson Square (bottom photo).
The Bears were given a few hours of free time after practice to hang out with their family members. Baylor Photography's Matthew Minard caught up with Fred Ellis and Quincy Acy taking in the sites and sounds of NOLA with Q's family.
We close tonight's blog with this: thanks to Greg Gilmore for the 'Sic 'Em Bears' we received at dinner earlier this evening at Gordon Biersch on Poydras Street (We promised a shout out).
Baylor's Big News in the 'Big Easy'
The 60-year drought (without an NCAA Tournament win) is over. With Tweety Carter scoring just two points and LaceDarius Dunn scored eight of his 13 points in the game's final 120 seconds, No. 3 seed Baylor proved its a contender (per CNNSI.com's Seth Davis).
Now the Old Dominion Monarchs stand in the way of Baylor's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.
But less than 24 hours after Baylor advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round in New Orleans, everyone is still talking about the Bears. Here's a cursory look at FRIDAY'S HEADLINES:
Members of the Baylor men's basketball team were treated to two very special guests during breakfast Friday morning - New Orleans Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt (right) and secondaries coach Dennis Allen (left).
Survive, Advance and End 60-Year Drought
March 23, 1950.No member of the Baylor basketball staff (player or coach) had been born and the tournament field consisted of only eight teams.
That date was the last time Baylor won an NCAA Tournament game. Was. Baylor's 60-year drought without an NCAA Tournament win ended this afternoon with the Bears' 68-59 win over No. 14 seed Sam Houston State at New Orleans Arena.
We're sure the majority of BaylorNation was on pins and needles during most of the game, but the Bears survived, advanced and ended the 60-year drought. Survive and advance. That's March Madness. Many people predicted Baylor to break the century mark and score in bunches. Well, Saturday did not feature the real Baylor Bears or the real Sam Houston State Bearkats. The Bears trailed at the half (uncharacteristic) and the Bearkats shot just 19.4 percent from beyond the arc (also, uncharacteristic).
Now the jitters are gone. Baylor ended yet another streak. Now it's back to the business.
School-record victory No. 26? Check. First NCAA Tournament win since 1950? Check.
Survive and Advance to Houston? That's next.
When the Bears Go Marching In
There might be no Louisiana teams playing in this year's NCAA Tournament, but the Pelican State is well represented, especially in the New Orleans Region. Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn (Monroe), Tweety Carter (Reserve) and Sam Houston State's Ashton Mitchell (New Orleans) will play in their home state this weekend.
Dunn and Carter are at the center of the national spotlight in New Orleans as the No. 3 seed Bears take on No. 14 seed Sam Houston State Thursday afternoon at New Orleans Arena. Not to be lost in the shuffle is the historical significance of the first-round matchup: A win would be Baylor's first NCAA Tournament victory in the modern era of the Tournament and its first since 1950 (when the NCAA Tournament was merely eight teams).
Baylor is all the rage in NOLA. Here's a look at THURSDAY'S HEADLINES:
Happy March Madness Everyone!
Baylor's March to Madness Begins with Dangerous Bearkats
Yes, they are dangerous.
For the record, can you name the NCAA Division I leader in assists? Sam Houston State.
And the team that ranks fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio? Also Sam Houston State.
How do they match up with the Bears in the first round? The numbers are a bit surprising:
We are entering the final 16 hours, Baylor continues to get more and more media coverage heading into the NCAA Tournament. Wednesday's schedule included the Bears holding an open practice at New Orleans Arena and going through all the media motions before practice.
MORE MEDIA ATTENTION
Carter Instrumental in Baylor's Comeback. Fanhouse.com's Terrance Harris chatted it up hometown hero and Baylor senior point guard Tweety Carter.
Lace Dunn the next Stephen Curry? Baylor junior guard LaceDarius Dunn is one of five players in the NCAA South Region as the possible next Stephen Curry.
A St. Patrick's Day of Green and Gold in NOLA
Happy St. Patrick's Day! We thought Louisiana native Marc Broussard was rather apropos this week.
Louisiana natives Tweety Carter (Reserve) and LaceDarius Dunn (Monroe) returned to their home state Tuesday night when the Baylor Bears arrived in New Orleans for the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
And from the moment we touched down, the Bears had their own personal tour guide as Tweety was quick to point out the landmarks, sights and sounds of his hometown. Once we arrived in New Orleans, we went straight to dinner at Red Fish Grill. Our dinner included alligator sausage and seafood gumbo, creole jambalaya and bread pudding. Outstanding.
Did we mention Tweety Carter is of 'celebrity status' in the 'Big Easy'?
Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune talked about the former Louisiana Mr. Basketball and what he means to Baylor and his hometown of Reserve.
Wednesday morning began with our postseason media almanacs arriving at New Orleans Arena and a sports information meeting at 10 a.m. We won't bore you with the details...
The rest of out Wednesday afternoon will consist of media engagements and practice at New Orleans Arena. With East Region No. 1 seed Kentucky also in New Orleans, a large number of national media are expected to attend the first and second rounds in NOLA.
Speaking of the first and second rounds...
POTUS (President of the United States) Barack Obama picked the Baylor Bears to advance to the Sweet 16 before falling to the Villanova Wildcats.
Like we said, the Baylor bandwagon is growing by the hour...
Less than 26 hours until gametime.
Baylor Bandwagon Growing by the Hour
It's becoming hard to avoid. Yesterday, you turn on the TV and someone is talking about Baylor. Last night, Baylor. This morning, Baylor. Even social media is all atwitter about Baylor. We're trendy, we're fashionable, we're 25-7 and we're expected to do great things in the NCAA Tournament.
The turn of events that unfolded during Selection Sunday couldn't have worked out any better. You don't have look very far for any good stories heading into our game in New Orleans. Just see Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn.
We keep revisiting this, but think about it: Picked 10th in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll...Finish the regular season tied for second in the Big 12 (11-5)...Earn first-round bye in Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship...Now a No. 3 seed in NCAA Tournament and are a trendy Final Four pick.
Wow. That's the kind of media attention you just can't buy.
Even though New Orleans is about a nine-hour drive from Waco, Baylor could still have the largest fan base in the Crescent City. Why? Because Tweety's hometown of Reserve is only 35 minutes from New Orleans and everyone wants to see their hometown hero return on the national stage. Lace's hometown of Monroe - roughly five hours from NOLA - will be in attendance as well. In fact, during Monday's media interviews, Lace said that "his hometown" will get to New Orleans before he does.
Speaking of LaceDarius Dunn...
ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan says Bears guard (Dunn) is a bear to guard. We tend to agree - look for Lace to become Baylor's all-time leading scorer next season.
FOXSports.com lists Dunn as one of the "10 guys you don't know...yet" in the NCAA Tournament.
Don't forget about 'The Nightmare', Ekpe Udoh...
Our boy at Yahoo! Sports Jason King has Ep has one of his five more frontcourt players to watch. Jason said Baylor wouldn't be in the NCAA Tournament if not for Udoh. Agreed.
Miscellaneous Media Buzz...
Head coach Scott Drew has had a very busy media schedule in the last 48 hours...From print to TV to radio, Baylor is getting national media attention. On today's Drew media docket of note? ESPN First Take (this morning), The Scott Van Pelt Show (this afternoon, but will air tomorrow) and the Brian Kenny Show (tonight).
ESPN.com's Andy Katz lists the Bears as the wild card in the South Region.
Five bold predictions by ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan: No. 5 - Baylor will make the Final Four.
49 hours and 26 minutes until tip-off in New Orleans.
Baylor Becoming the Trendy Final Four Pick, But Bears Still Have to Win a Game
Pardon our tardiness, but the last 72 hours have been a speeding train of media blitz. After Baylor's tough 82-75 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship semifinals Friday night, the Bears' focus quickly shifted to the NCAA Tournament. Yes, the Bears were upset about falling short of winning the school's first Big 12 title.
If you remember, we made a pretty big deal about Baylor's run in the NIT last season. But, take a step back and look at where the Bears have been in the last 365-plus days:
BAYLOR'S RUN TO THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE GAME
THE BEARS' MAGICAL POSTSEASON RUN
From being picked 10th in the Big 12 Coaches Preseason Poll to now being a trendy NCAA Final Four pick, the Baylor Bears have arrived.
Media nationwide are clamoring for the No. 3 seed Bears to make a deep run in the tournament. Beginning with ESPN's Pat Forde:
The Minutes loves the Bears in this tourney. Loves the shooting stroke of guard LaceDarius Dunn. Loves the leadership qualities of point guard Tweety Carter. Loves the shot-blocking ability of center Ekpe Udoh. It's been 60 years since Baylor won an NCAA Tournament game, but it won't be much longer now.
Washington Post's Eric Prisbell: Baylor will make the Final Four. This is a much better team than Scott Drew had a few years ago, you remember, the team that would run up and down the floor like an AAU team but consider defense optional. The year's team ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense. LaceDarius Dunn is a player to watch.
Boston Globe's Bob Ryan: But if you're really looking for a team that could blitz its way to the Final Four, pay attention to South No. 3 seed Baylor, which is loaded with very live frontcourt bodies and which, in Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn, has a backcourt that can compete with any in the country.
Rush The Court projects No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Baylor in the Elite Eight.
The Dallas Morning News' Jean-Jacques Taylor expects Baylor to be poised for a deep tournament run because of its consistent guard play.
Tweety Carter isn't the only New Orleans native returning home for the NCAA Tournament. The Times-Picayune's Ted Lewis explains.
Now take a second to soak all of that information in...It's great media attention, right?
NOW FORGET ABOUT IT.
Baylor (25-7), a No. 3 seed in the South Region, is 3-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and has not won a tournament game in 1950. Baylor has not won an NCAA Tournament game in the modern format. Baylor's last tournament win came when the NCAA featured just eight teams.
One game at a time.
It's time to enjoy the Madness that is March.
More Semifinal Media Attention for the Bears
For those of you who may not know, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd has an all-access look inside the Baylor Bears basketball program all week in Kansas City. You can follow his stories about the Bears on his CBSSports.com blog.
Need further proof of Baylor's increased national media attention?
ESPN's College Basketball Nation Blog says Believe It: Baylor is here to stay.
Friday Afternoon Bracketology
At 25-6, the Baylor Bears enter Friday with a chance to advance to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship for the second consecutive year. Plus, the Bears are quickly becoming a favorite to occupy either a No. 2, 3 or 4 seed in next week's NCAA Tournament. What do the Bears need to do to get a No. 2 seed? Win tonight and you are looking at one of the tournament's top eight seeds.
That's an amazing possibility for a team that was picked 10th in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll.
Friday's Afternoon Bracketology will study six different bracketology reports - two with Baylor as a No. 4 seed and four as a No. 3. One of those picking Baylor as a No. 3 seed? ESPN's Joe Lunardi. Let's start with the 4 seed predictions:
Your No. 3 seed predictions look like this:
Udoh, 'Louisianimals' Complete Texas Trifecta Sweep
He went from being a completely non-factor in the first half to being the deciding factor in the second half. One-half of the Louisianimals, LaceDarius Dunn scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and dished out a career-high seven assists to lead No. 3 seed Baylor to an 86-67 rout of No. 6 seed Texas late Thursday night in Kansas City.
Dunn, Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh combined for 64 of Baylor's 86 points Thursday night. Udoh finished with a career-high 25 points, while Carter chipped in 20. And while those statlines were great, our favorite was this one: Fred Ellis, 6 points in 8 minutes. After Dunn's quick first-half exit, Ellis came on to hit two 3s in succession to keep Baylor ahead for good.
For the second straight year, Baylor eliminated Texas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The latest win completed a three-game sweep of Texas, while extending the Bears' winning streak over the Longhorns to four games.
Here's the Media Reaction in FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES:
The Quarterfinals are Upon Us
Before you ask...
Yes, Oklahoma did it in 1997-98, 2000-01 and 2001-02 and Oklahoma State completed it in 2003-04.
That 'it' is beat Texas three times in the same season.
And to think of it another way...
By the time Baylor takes the floor for tonight's quarterfinal game against Texas, we will have watched seven games and witnessed seven teams eliminated at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. This time last season, Baylor had already won two games (Nebraska, Kansas).
It seems like we've been in Kansas City for a month, yet we arrived Tuesday afternoon. Since our arrival, former Kansas City Star columnist and current CBSSports.com writer Dennis Dodd has been embedded with the Bears, following the team around during our drive for the Big 12 Championship title. In fact, Dennis wrote an excellent article on head coach Scott Drew's Bears last night.
So what do you need to know about tonight's quarterfinal game with the Longhorns? Look no further:
A Miscellanea Multimedia Madness look at Thursday's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship Quarterfinal:
BAYLOR PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
TEXAS SERIES HISTORY
A BAYLOR WIN WOULD...
MORE MEDIA ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS...MORE HONORS FOR THE BEARS
Tonight, BaylorNation, is a big night.
Baylor Visits Children's Mercy Hospital in K.C.
Practice. Interviews. Hospital visit. Watch basketball.
Wednesday's schedule IS A FAR CRY from this time last year. If you remember at this very moment in Oklahoma City, the No. 9 seeded Bears defeated Nebraska in the first round and we were busy churning out game notes, etc., for Thursday's quarterfinal game against top-seeded Kansas.
This year, the Bears have the opportunity to relax on the tournament's first day. So after an energetic practice on Sprint Center's main floor at 9:30 a.m. and interviews with the Waco media (and CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd), members of the Baylor basketball team visited children at Children's Mercy Hospital, which specializes in treating pediatric cancer.
The visit brought smiles to the children's faces...many of them commented that Quincy Acy was their favorite dunker. The team took photos with some of the kids and a few doctors, as well. Head coach Scott Drew's uncle, Tom Demark, a retired school teacher, works at the hospital.
You can follow Dennis Dodd's blog on CBSSports.com as he follows the Baylor Bears all week. We'll be courtside for Wednesday night's final game between Iowa State and Texas.
Primed for Another Championship Run
Last year, no one predicted the No. 9 seed Baylor Bears to survive and advance three times at the 2009 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship in OKC. Needless to say, being the No. 3 seed in this year's Big 12 Championship, national media are putting the Bears back in the finals...
ESPN analyst Jay Williams (last night) predicted Baylor to win the Big 12 Championship and has the Bears as potential Final Four team.
SI.com's Seth Davis (overlooking the Big 12 Championship) included the Bears as one of his Final Four sleeper teams (Wisconsin).
The ubiquitousness that is Rush The Court predicts Baylor to beat Texas and Oklahoma State en route to a rematch with top-seed Kansas in the finals.
Sporting News' Ryan Fagan: Kansas 77, Baylor 73 in the finals. Fagan says the Bears are the hottest team in the tournament field right now and the best matchup of the tournament could be Kansas' Cole Aldrich vs. Baylor's Ekpe Udoh.
Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff also predicts Kansas to upend the Bears in the finals.
SPORTING NEWS ALL-BIG 12
UDOH FOXSPORTS.COM ALL-AMERICAN
'Joey Brackets' Moves Baylor Up, Scott Drew Headlines More Media Big 12 Honors
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi (herein referred to as 'Joey Brackets') has apparently heard many of the cries from BaylorNation, shouting from the rooftops for Baylor to be a No. 3 or No. 4 regional seed. In his latest Bracketology late last night (11:55 PM EST), the Bears were bumped from a No. 5 seed to a No. 4 seed in Spokane, Wash., against projected MAC automatic qualifier Kent State.
Lunardi's Nitty Gritty Report lists Baylor as the last No. 4 seed behind Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Speaking of Wisconsin, SI.com's Seth Davis (who should get an honorary Bear Pit jersey for his support of the Bears this season) has the Bears and the Badgers as two of his Final Four sleeper picks (in the Twitterverse).
Tuesday's been a busy day as more Big 12 and national awards continue to roll in for Baylor...
After guiding the Bears from a 10th-place preseason pick to a second-place finish in the Big 12 standings, head coach Scott Drew was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by Austin American-Statesman. Ekpe Udoh was named to the first team, while he picked up Newcomer of the Year honors...yet again. LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter were all named to the All-Big 12 second team by the Statesman.
The trio was also named to the All-Big 12 second team by the Associated Press...Udoh picked up Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors from the AP, as well. Just add these honors to the laundry list of accolades the Bears have received already this season:
For 30 games in the regular season, the Baylor Bears played the underdog role with great success, finishing with a 24-6 record - the best record in 64 years. But now, Baylor is no longer flying under the radar as many national writers expecting the Bears run the table in Kansas City. Blair Kerkhoff of Kansas City Star projects the Bears to face the Kansas Jayhawks in the finals. ESPN.com's Pat Forde thinks Baylor will knock off the Jayhawks in the finals and could be a very dangerous team in both the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Tournament.
Let the Madness begin.
Tweety Finally Receiving Much-Deserved National Attention
It only took four seasons at Baylor for Tweety Carter to gain national attention at the college level after he garnered the spotlight as the nation's highest scorer in high school history. Baylor's first-ever McDonald's All-American is now a college All-American. Carter was named to Sporting News' All-American fourth team Tuesday, capping off a stellar regular season.
Carter is the first Baylor player to be named to Sporting News All-American since Micheal Williams earned back-to-back honorable mention accolades from the publication in 1987 and 1988.
Carter, a third-team All-Big 12 selection by the league's coaches, was also named second-team All-Big 12 Tuesday by Austin American-Statesman.
The Reserve, La., native is the third Baylor player to be an All-American selection this season. Ekpe Udoh (third team) and LaceDarius Dunn (honorable mention) were both named to the Yahoo! Sports All-American team.
Now, Carter, Udoh and Dunn join these nine previous Baylor All-Americans:
Hubert S. 'Hub' Kirkpatrick
Quincy Acy: Top (Two) Plays of the Week
Baylor's one-man dunking machine otherwise known as The Cookie Monster, sophomore Quincy Acy dazzled the soldout Ferrell Center crowd last Saturday with 10 highlight-reel dunks during the Bears' 92-77 win over Texas. Acy's monster block on Damion James earned him the No. 5 spot on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays Saturday night...But on Monday, Acy earned the top two spots on the Top 10 Plays of the weekend.
(Video courtesy of ESPN)
For the record, Quincy Acy has 68 dunks this season...
Monday Afternoon Bracketology and Big 12 Awards Galore
This time next week, we will know the Who? What? When? and Where? as it pertains to the Baylor Bears and the NCAA Tournament. Who will the Bears play in the first round? What region? When will they play? and probably one of the more important questions, Where will they play?
As we enter the final week, every Bracketologist's bracket will be fluid with automatic bids being decided and "bubbles" bursting. This year, Baylor won't be waiting around wondering its NCAA fate as the Bears are securely in the Field of 65. We just don't have answers to the four above questions.
Last week we mentioned the thought of the Bears as a solid No. 5 seed. Following Baylor's 15-point rout of the Longhorns Saturday and its RPI jumping to No. 8 this week, the Bears are finding themselves playing for a No. 3 seed in the "Big Dance". That could become a reality with Baylor's performance in this week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship in Kansas City.
Today's Monday Afternoon Bracketology will chronicle seven different bracketology reports - some seeding Baylor higher than others. For instance:
FOR THE GOOD NEWS:
It's one of the most exciting times of the year and should really earn "National Holiday" status.
BIG 12 HONORS CONTINUE TO ROLL IN
Boom Goes the Dynamite, The Day Aftermath, Part II
Flight 4, prepare for lift-off in 3...2...1...
On second thought, we better count to 10. As in Quincy Acy's 10 monsterous dunks, while finishing with a career-high 24 points to help lead No. 21 Baylor to a 92-77 win over No. 25 Texas Saturday night in front of a sold-out Ferrell Center crowd. Acy's performance was so impressive that his 10 dunks - along with a dunk counter - and two blocked shots were the only highlights from the Baylor win shown on SportsCenter. And his dunks didn't even make Top 10 plays! His monster blocked shot on Damion James in the second half came in at No. 5 on Top Plays.
Picked 10th in the Big 12 preseason poll in October, Baylor (24-6) finishes the regular season tied for second in the conference standings and earn a first-round bye in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. The Bears' No. 3 seed is their highest in the Big 12 era and their highest since earning a No. 2 seed in the 1988 Southwest Conference Postseason Classic.
For those scoring at home, here's a complimentary QUINCY ACY DUNK-O-METER: 68. That's right: 68 of Acy's 118 field goals this season have come by virtue of a rim-rattling dunk. Acy definitely wore his PF Flyers for Saturday's 15-point rout of the Longhorns. How's this for a segue...'The Cookie Monster' dunked a lot, so we'll clean the glass with some TEXAS LEFTOVERS:
Saturday's home finale win over Texas seems lightyears away from this point last year when Baylor lost its home finale to Nebraska, fell to 17-13 overall and were a No. 9 seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. Last year, Baylor's postseason hopes appeared dim until the Bears reeled off one of the impressive postseason runs in NCAA memory. Now the question is not: Will Baylor make the tournament? It's: How far can the Bears go in the NCAA Tournament? These are definitely fun times at Baylor, but the madness is just beginning.
What will we do now that we don't play again until Thursday in Kansas City?
We'll have plenty to talk about beginning with the announcing of the All-Big 12 teams Sunday afternoon.
NBA Scouts Flocking to Ferrell Center
Twelve different NBA scouts are expected to attend Saturday's regular season finale between No. 21 Baylor and No. 25 Texas in the Ferrell Center. Ten different NBA organizations will be represented, including the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Among those scheduled to be in attendance Saturday is Miami President/GM Pat Riley, who led the Los Angeles Lakers to four NBA titles and the Miami Heat to the 2006 NBA title as head coach.
Stage is Set for Epic Senior Day
Saturday's Senior Day could go down as one of the greatest endings to a regular season in the 104-year history of Baylor basketball. At 23-6 overall and 10-5 in the Big 12, a win over Texas will send the Bears to Kansas City with a first-round bye in next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. A win will also give Baylor a Ferrell Center-record 15 home wins...The Bears would finish 15-1 at home this season.
A win would also mean that the winningest senior class in school history - Josh Lomers and Tweety Carter - will leave the Ferrell Center court one last time as victors. Lomers and Carter are the first senior class with three straight 20-win seasons and will be the first class with three consecutive postseason appearances.
With Saturday's game expected to be a sellout, the Ferrell Center will be very rowdy and could prove to a be a huge homecourt advantage. Aside from the obvious (a first-round bye), A BAYLOR WIN WOULD...
One of the Nation's Best Scorers? Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn
That headline can be attributed to ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, who mentioned LaceDarius Dunn in an article in this morning's Dallas Morning News:
"Nationally, the average college basketball fan has no idea how good a scorer Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn is. He is one of the best in the country at making tough shots and, when he is left open, it's an upset when the ball doesn't go in."
Dallas Morning News sports writer Chuck Carlton discusses the differences between Dunn as a freshman to, as he refers, Dunn 2.0. Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel called Dunn the top 'shotmaker' in the Big 12:
"What makes him so hard to defend is his confidence. There are not many guys around the country that are playing better than him, especially at the two-guard spot."
Honoring Baylor's Winningest Senior Class
Prior to the start of Saturday's regular season finale in the Ferrell Center, Baylor will honor the winningest class in program history -- Josh Lomers and Tweety Carter -- during Senior Day festivities.
#50 JOSH LOMERS, CENTER (BOERNE, TEXAS)
#45 TWEETY CARTER, GUARD (RESERVE, LA.)
Friday Lunchtime Bracketology
Today's Bracketology musings, in no particular order:
No. 6 (Jacksonville)
No. 6 (Buffalo)
No. 3 (New Orleans)
No. 7 (Milwaukee)
No. 5 (Spokane)
And now for the reveal:
The ever-so ubiquitous Rush The Court has the Bears as a No.6 seed in Jacksonville against fellow 2009 NIT Final Four team Notre Dame (ND is one of Joe Lunardi's Last Four In). Unlike other sites, RTC takes a step further, predicting round-by-round results. Today, the Bears win over Notre Dame before falling to The Ohio State University in the second round. RTC even suggests a possible Kansas-Kansas State Final Four matchup in Indianapolis.
In his latest update this morning, Lunardi still has the Bears slotted as a No. 6 seed in Buffalo against the Florida Gators. Baylor is standing strong at No. 10 in ESPN's latest InsideRPI.
Not much has changed with TheHoopsReport.com either. Baylor remains the No. 3 seed in New Orleans against No. 14 and projected Summit League automatic qualifier Oakland.
Perhaps the most intriguing Bracketology report comes from Bracketography.com, which has three - yes, THREE - Big 12 teams on the No. 7 seed line - Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor. For now: Texas in Providence...Oklahoma State in Jacksonville...Baylor in Milwaukee vs. Cal. The fourth No. 7 seed is Gonzaga, which was placed in Oklahoma City.
Finally...Bracketology 101 (in conjunction with FOXSports.com) has Baylor in Spokane as a No. 5 seed against No. 12 Mississippi State. In comparison to Baylor's opponents: No. 1 - Kansas; Nop. 2 - Kansas State; No. 6 - Xavier, Texas A&M; No. 7 - Missouri, Texas; No. 8 - Oklahoma State; No. 15 - Morgan State.
Calling All Letterwinners: Baylor "Ballers" Event
All Baylor letterwinners are invited to attend the second annual Baylor "Ballers" Event prior to Saturday's regular season finale with Texas. Sponsored by Kevin Henry '02, the event will feature a complimentary BBQ lunch and fellowship from Noon-2 p.m. in the XTO Room (Simpson Center, 2nd floor).
To RSVP for the lunch and fellowship on Saturday, please call Tammy Hardin at (254) 710-3045.
Do the Math. 11-5=No. 3 Seed (almost)
Our seeding scenario suspicions were confirmed late this evening when the Big 12 Conference posted its 21 different seeding scenarios on www.Big12Sports.com.
The math is simple. 11-5=No. 3 seed (almost). Of the six possible tiebreak scenarios featuring Baylor at 11-5, the Bears are the No. 3 seed in four situations and the No. 2 seed in two others. However, 10-6=No. 5 or No. 6.
One game could be a swing of four seeds. That's how good the Big 12 is this season.
If Baylor is in a four-team logjam at 11-5 with Kansas State, Missouri and Texas A&M, Baylor will be the No. 2 seed in Kansas City. If Baylor is in a four-way tie at 10-6 with Missoui, A&M and Texas, the Bears will be a No. 5 seed. The only BU will be a No. 6 seed is if either a) Baylor, Missouri and Texas are tied at 10-6 or b) only Baylor and Texas are tied at 10-6.
Thursday Afternoon Bracketology
Earlier this afternoon, we chronicled the likely seeding scenarios for next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship by using this dandy site. Now, we have more Bracketology to discuss thanks to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi's most recent update Thursday.
Lunardi still lists Baylor as a No. 6 seed in Buffalo. This time against the Florida Gators, which should be on the proverbial 'bubble'. If you remember Monday's Afternoon Bracketology, you'd know Baylor was a No. 6 in Buffalo against No. 11 St. Mary's. Same city. Same seed. Different foe. Either way, we think Baylor is destined for a No. 5 or 6 seed. We think that's a fair assessment. To put it in perspective, since the NCAA starting seeding teams in 1979, Baylor has been a No. 8 seed (1988) and a No. 11 seed (2008).
Last season, Baylor was a No. 3 seed in the Auburn Region of the NIT, which would equate to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For the third consecutive week, CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm is holding strong in his projection that Baylor will play Kent State as a No. 4 seed in San Jose. Baylor/Kent State is paired with No. 5 Michigan State/No. 12 Utah State. Interesting Note: Two of Baylor's 2009 NIT opponents - San Diego State and Virginia Tech - are listed as the 'Last Four In', according to Palm's projections.
TheHoopsReport.com puts Baylor one better in its latest NCAA tournament field, listing the Bears as the No. 3 seed in the Houston Region against Summit League automatic qualifier Oakland.
Less than 10 days until Selection Sunday.
Seeding for Kansas City...Could Come Down to Last Minute
As we enter the final weekend of the regular season, the stage is set, tie-break scenarios have been evaluated and Baylor is one win away from securing a first-round bye in next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. The litany of potential scenarios are not as simple as eighth-grade algebra or If A+B, then C. At least, most of the scenarios aren't as simple as that.
We laid out the scenarios Tuesday prior to Baylor's 86-68 win at Texas Tech. Missouri's Kevin Fletcher outlined the Tigers' postseason seeding scenarios this morning and an Iowa State fan has written a program to sort out all these Big 12 tie-break scenarios.
Now, to throw a wrench into the equation...Did you know Baylor could finish anywhere from a No. 2 seed to a No. 6 seed? Simply put, a Baylor win over Texas Saturday would give the Bears a very high probability of being the No. 3 seed next week in Kansas City. A Baylor loss could mean the Bears are playing next Wednesday in the No. 6/No. 11 game.
Here's hoping to a simplied scenario listing, saving you all the math.
Baylor is on the verge of earning its first opening-round bye in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship in the Big 12 era. Entering Saturday's regular season finale with Texas, here's how the seeding will play out:
If Baylor beats Texas, the Bears are the:
If Baylor loses to Texas, the Bears are the:
Want to know why these scenarios play out this way? The Big 12 Conference's tiebreaker rules are in-depth. Remember: while basketball does not have divisions like football, the league is divided into the BIG 12 NORTH and BIG 12 SOUTH for scheduling and tiebreaker purposes.
The regular season has been a marathon, but teams will be Sprinting to the finish Saturday in Kansas City.
That 'Thin Line' Getting Thinner After Win #23
For the second time in three seasons, Baylor finished the regular season with a 4-4 road record in the Big 12. In head coach Scott Drew's first six seasons, Baylor was 6-42 on the road in the Big 12 and 2-38 in his first five seasons.
Now, the Bears are 23-6 overall and 10-5 in Big 12 play following their 86-68 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock Tuesday night. Baylor's 10 Big 12 wins? A school record in the Big 12 era...and the most conference wins since the Bears won 11 Southwest Conference games in 1987-88 (Baylor finished 23-11 and went to the NCAA Tournament that season).
Drew's squad of Underdogs is experiencing late-season success that has been paralleled only by Bill Henderson's 1947-48 squad. BU is 17 games above. 500 for the first time since that 1947-48 season. Oh yeah, and that 1947-48 team advanced to the NCAA title game at Madison Square Garden. Drew's Underdogs and Henderson's NCAA runner-up squads were both 23-6 through 29 games.
Rivals.com's Jason King has taken notice of Baylor's record-setting season, listing Drew on his Yahoo! Sports All-Coaches second team. Just how epic was Baylor's 23rd win of the season? See for yourself in Wednesday's TEXAS TECH LEFTOVERS:
ABOUT THAT 'THIN LINE' BETWEEN 'BYE' AND 'NO BYE'...
THREE CLAPS FOR...
Baylor's March to Kansas City Begins Tonight
As mentioned this morning, Baylor is playing for seeding in Kansas City. And if the Bears want a first-round bye in the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship, then Baylor will need to handle its business with a win tonight at Texas Tech.
Two Baylor wins this week = No. 3 seed. A 1-1 week by Baylor = a fate TBD Saturday.
Baylor's March to Kansas City could be one of historic proportions. But it all begins at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock...Baylor is 13-42 all-time in Lubbock and 1-5 in the Scott Drew era. How big would a win be tonight in Lubbock? Well, see for yourself:
A BAYLOR WIN WOULD...
Every win is significant. Every game is a "big" game.
PREVIEWING TEXAS TECH
LAST TIME VS. TEXAS TECH (FEB. 16, 2010)
LAST TIME AT TEXAS TECH (FEB. 7, 2009)
A RECORD TO REMEMBER
Be sure to tune into FOX Sports Southwest or FOX Sports Houston for tonight's 7:07 p.m. CST tip between Baylor and Texas Tech in Lubbock. Or...you can turn down the sound on your TV and turn up the volume on your radio dial to 1660 ESPN with John Morris and Pat Nunley.
BEFORE WE GO...
Bracketology: Lundari's NCAA hopes for Baylor
Exclusively for ESPN Dallas, bracketologist Joe Lunardi discusses the possibility of a high seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st-ranked Baylor Bears.
A Thin Line Between 'Bye' and 'No Bye'
As head coach Scott Drew said during Baylor's weekly media session Monday, the Bears are "playing for seeding, not the tournament". Here's how to make the tie-break scenario simple: you win out and you have the luxury of having next Wednesday off in Kansas City.
If the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship started today...
Want to know why Baylor would be No. 3, when the Bears are tied at 9-5 with A&M and Mizzou? Simple: Baylor beat Missouri and wins the tie-break laid out in criteria (c) below.
Earning a first-round bye in the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship is crucial. There's a reason why no team has won four games in four days to win the Big 12 title. That's how important a first-round bye is. Just look at last season...Baylor knows all too well what playing four games in four days does to you.
(a) If two teams are tied and they are from different divisions, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the higher seed.
(b) If two teams are tied and they are from the same division, the team with an advantage in head-to-head competition shall be the higher seed.
(c) If two teams remain tied, there will be a comparison of overall record against division teams only (10 divisional games).
(d) If two teams remain tied, there will be a comparison of record against the highest ranked team(s) (based upon Conference winning percentage) in the division and proceeding through in order of divisional record.
(e) If two teams remain tied, there will be a *comparison of record against the highest ranked team(s) (based upon Conference winning percentage) in the opposite division and proceeding through in order of divisional record.
(f ) If two teams remain tied, the higher seed will be chosen by draw.
(g) If three or more teams are tied, ties among divisional opponents will be broken first by using steps (b) through (f ) and the head-to-head results will be used to break ties between non-divisional teams. When three or more teams from the same division are tied step (b) will consist of a mini- round robin among the tied teams. At any point during the process of breaking ties among three or more teams that the number of tied teams are reduced to two, head-to-head competition would be used as the primary tie-breaker, followed-by steps (c) through (f).
Note: When comparing against the "highest ranked team(s)" in either division, the comparison will be based upon how tied teams did against all teams in a given placement, rather than a team that wins a tiebreaker at another position. For example, if two teams are tied for fifth and two teams are tied for first, the head-to-head comparison would be how the fifth place teams did against the first place teams combined, and vice-versa.
Baylor, which is 22-6 and 9-5 in the Big 12 entering tonight's game at Texas Tech, is playing for seeding next week in Kansas City...not for the NCAA Tournament like last season. Let the Madness Begin.
This Mad Season We're In
With the regular season winding down, everyone is shifting more and more of their focus to the conference tournaments and, of course, Bracketology. Unlike two years ago - and even last season, when were watching NITology.com for the latest updates - Baylor won't have to worry about its name and the words 'NCAA', 'Tournament', 'Bubble' and 'The' being mentioned in the same sentence. This year, Baylor's ticket to the 'Big Dance' is punched. But, to where?
In our early Monday Morning Bracketology today, Baylor's madness-induced March travels were possibly bringing the Bears to Spokane, Wash. Well, three more Bracketology reports were unveiled this afternoon and none of which had Baylor going to cities that began with 'Spok-' and ended with '-ane'. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm, who runs the website CollegeRPI.com, projects Baylor as the No. 4 seed in the East Region out west in San Jose, Calif., against the Golden Flashes of Kent State. Scott Drew's squad would possibly face his alma mater, No. 4 Butler, if the Bulldogs were to get by No. 12 UConn in the first round.
Shifting gears to the South Region...SI.com's Andy Glockner lists Baylor on the No. 5 seed line against No. 12 Dayton in New Orleans. If that happens, don't be surprised if you see a lot of Tweety Carter fans at New Orleans Arena.
Concluding our Monday Afternoon Bracketology segment is ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, who has Baylor holding steady at No. 6 in Buffalo against No. 11 St. Mary's. The winner of Baylor/St. Mary's would be paired with the No. 3 West Virginia/No. 14 Oakland winner.
An interesting side note: Three of Lunardi's 'Last Four In' all played in the NIT last year, including two Baylor NIT opponents - Virginia Tech and San Diego State.
BAYLOR TRIUMVIRATE AMONG NATION'S TOP 10
'THE NIGHTMARE' IN SPORTING NEWS
It's March, Let the Madness Begin
The Selection Committee won't care about where Baylor ranks in the AP or ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls...They will care about RPI, quality wins, strength of schedule, etc.
Rankings aside, Baylor is in contention for not only a top-four seed in next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, but also a top-five seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. As of this morning's latest Bracketology reports, the Bears appear to be a solid No. 5 seed:
ESPN.com's Andy Katz lists Baylor head coach Scott Drew as one of five coaches deserving praise in Sunday's Weekly Watch:
"The Bears fumbled away their chance in the Big 12 last season but still rallied to make the NIT final. They weren't supposed to contend for a bid out of the Big 12 this season but have consistently won on the road to share a third-place standing with Texas A&M and Missouri through 14 games. Drew's Bears are a threat to win in Kansas City in the Big 12 tournament and a game or two in the NCAA tournament. Drew has always recruited well and now should be applauded for his coaching, too."
13 days and some change until Selection Sunday.