(3) Baylor vs. (10) Xavier Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(3) Baylor Bears
Going into the tournament a lot of teams were concerned about how they were going to match up with the Bears’ athletic frontline. Through two games, containing their backcourt of Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip has been the bigger challenge by far. The two of them have been unstoppable up to this point. They gave the Colorado Buffaloes fits as they eliminated them 80-63. Heslip went off for 27 points, including nine threes, while Jackson scored 15, dished out 10 assists and created five steals. While they carried the scoring load, the frontline focused on limiting Andre Roberson and winning the battle of the boards by seven. Their game against Xavier in the Sweet 16 is going to be intriguing. The Musketeers have a dynamic backcourt themselves, so Jackson and Heslip are going to have to be at their best defensively if they’re going to move onto the Elite Eight. This may be a game where they distribute and facilitate the offense more than they score.
(10) Xavier Musketeers
Prior to the Musketeers Round of 32 match up against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, who upset Duke in their first game, most people expected the contest to come down to who played better between Tu Holloway and C.J. McCollum. Holloway topped McCollum, scoring 21 to McCollum’s 14 on 5-22 shooting from the field. It was center Kenny Frease who made the biggest difference for the Musketeers, though, as they advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five years. He put up a monster double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds while also blocking two shots. The Mountain Hawks led by four at halftime, but couldn’t slow down the big man inside as they fell 70-58. Frease’s emergence couldn’t have come at a better time. They’ll need him to be just as good against the talented Bears’ frontline in the Sweet 16. It would be nice if Mark Lyons could get going, through two games he’s scoring at almost half the rate he did during the regular season.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Baylor. We can’t give an advantage in the backcourt either way, but the Bears’ big men should impose their will and lead them to the Elite Eight.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!