The Sweet 16 kicks off in the South Region on Friday night at Phillips Arena, and the two teams that are going to battle it out for a spot in the Elite 8 are the Baylor Bears and the Xavier Musketeers.
The Musketeers know that they have gotten a bit of fortunate to reach this point in the dance. They were in a position where they probably shouldn’t have been in the NCAA Tournament until going on a good run in the A-10 Tournament to make it to the dance. Then they got a great draw, taking care of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Getting Lehigh instead of the Duke Blue Devils, especially playing in Greensboro was a tremendous break, and the X-Men took advantage of it. It seems odd that Mark Lyons has been nowhere to be seen in this tournament. He is one of the big time scorers for this team, but he only had seven points against Lehigh. Kenny Frease is the one that really came up big, scoring 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Tu Holloway had 21 points in the victory though, and he has stayed consistent over the course of the last several seasons, save for the fight against the Cincinnati Bearcats earlier in the year.
Baylor is a team that is tremendously talented, and all of a sudden, it is one of the 16 teams left standing in the field. The Bears haven’t had the most difficult draw in the world, taking down the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the Colorado Buffaloes, and this isn’t going to be the biggest challenge either. The starting five for Baylor can really get the job done, and all five are incredibly dangerous. Pierre Jackson is the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, while Perry Jones III is just behind with 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller are both capable scorers and rebounds, while Brady Heslip is a tremendous assassin from beyond the arc. He is shooting 45.6 percent from three point range this year, and he and Jackson are both capable to be able to shoot the lights out of the building. However, there are games that we have seen this team play that just make you scratch your head, as there are plenty of losses that a team this talented shouldn’t be suffering.
The Final Word: Xavier is the hot team right now, and we think that Lyons is going to be able to get the job done in this one. Baylor’s inconsistencies are going to catch up with it in this dance at some point, and we think that the X-Men are going to be one of the capable double digit seeds that could make it to the Elite 8.
Xavier Musketeers vs. Baylor Bears Free Pick: Xavier Musketeers +6
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.