The Baylor Bears may be a No. 6 seed in the west region, but they’ve got to be feeling a lot like late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield because they’re not getting much respect from hoops analysts, oddsmakers and fans across the country.
Nevertheless, I say the Bears stand an excellent chance of taking down favored Wisconsin in their regional semifinal showdown on Thursday night.
Let’s see why.
Starts: 03/27/2014 7:47PM
Why Baylor Can Win This Regional Semifinal
Baylor will win this game for the same reasons they beat Doug McDermott and Creighton in its last contest – they’re far superior athletically – and a battle-tested bunch that has beaten Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Kansas State (two times apiece) and Iowa State.
I also like the way this team has rebounded after losing eight of nine games from Jan. 7 to Feb.8. Baylor has won 12 of its last 13 games overall while covering the spread in each of their March Madness affairs and cashing in seven times in their L/9 games overall. The Bears have excellent length across the frontline with 7-1 center Isaiah Austin and 6-9 leading scorer Cory Jefferson doing the bulk of the dirty work down low. Baylor can score the ball with the best teams in the nation and shoots it from deep very well, having finished 24th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage (39.2 %).
Could the Baylor Bears Go…To The NCAA National Championship Game?
Nope…not gonna’ happen…mostly because the Bears have really struggled to beat elite teams all season. This team lost to mediocre Texas and Oklahoma twice apiece as well as falling two more times to both Iowa State and Kansas .
If the Bears win this contest they’ll face the winner of the San Diego State-Arizona matchup and I just don’t see them beating Arizona although they will have a far better chance to reach the Final Four if San Diego State wins its regional semifinal matchup.
Why Wisconsin Will Win This Regional Semifinal
The Badgers will win because they’re efficient on offense – and have one of the nation’s best defenses. Wisconsin limited its opponents to a paltry 64.1 points per game in the regular season (41st) while also putting up an impressive 73.9 points per contest offensively (87th).
The Badgers also have plenty of length starting with leading scorer, seven-foot forward Frank Kaminsky and this team is extremely well-coached under Bo Ryan.
Could the Badgers Go…To The NCAA National Championship Game?
I don’t think so! Wisconsin has never reached the Final Four under Ryan and I don’t see them being able to beat athletic teams that play great defense like, either Arizona or Florida to name two. However, when you consider the fact that defense wins championships – and that this year’s NCAA Tournament has produced one shocker after another, I guess anything’s possible, though I wouldn’t bet the farm on the Badgers by any stretch of the imagination.
And the Winner Is This Sweet Sixteen Matchup Is…
Baylor wins this contest outright to cover the spread as a slight underdog.
The Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning SU record, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 non-conference games.
Wisconsin has gone 1-4 ATS in their L/5 games following an SU win and their pre-tournament losses to Michigan State and Nebraska are worrisome to say the least. The Badgers also gave up a whopping 77 points to Oregon the last time out – and that means they’re not playing defense as well as they did earlier this season.
Put all of these facts together and I believe it adds up to another ‘upset’ win for the Baylor Bears.