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To: Baylor Fans

From: A Washington State Fan

As I type this, Baylor is pulling away from San Diego in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic, and this seems just about over. That means tomorrow at 5:30, your school will be playing my school in the second round. Sweet.

This is a huge game for both teams. The Bears is fighting to prove they are for real as a national contender after their loss to Gonzaga (who WSU beat, by the way [handily]). The Cougars are trying to make their presence known on the national stage after beating Mississippi State 83-57 in the first round, their only loss coming in a tight game against Kansas State (prior to the suspensions, of course).

Truth be told, while I'm extremely excited about this year's WSU basketball team, and my confidence goes up every week, I'm extremely nervous about this game. Win or lose, you pose a measuring stick for us. You have a great team. Perhaps even better than you as a Baylor fan realize. They are, in fact, ranked as the eighth best team in the Pomeroy Rankings (prior to the San Diego game), with the fourth best defense. Just being able to hang with Baylor would, in all honesty, be a good sign of things to come for us. Should the Cougars manage a win, hopefully you'll go out through the rest of the season and make that look like a huge win for us come March.

I'm not just worried about the obvious LaceDarius Dunn. I'm really worried about our weaker big men up against Perry Jones inside. I'm extremely worried about Quincy Acy getting to the line too often, and I'm conversely terrified that you don't seem to send anyone to the line yourselves. You do give up the turnovers, so we have that shot, and that's important, because it sure doesn't seem like we'll get many second chances.

We are currently ranked 32nd in those same Pomeroys, with Klay Thompson (son of Mychal) and Faisal Aden leading an efficient offense, and DeAngelo Casto leading a defense that looks good against teams that are not you. The fan favorite secret weapon (secret to most people outside the northwest, but probably not the Baylor coaches) is Marcus Capers, who uses fewer than 16% of the but has still managed the 17th best offensive rating in basketball. If you want more of a scouting report, you can go here, or wait for the preview at CougCenter.

I admit to being nervous. I do not admit to being resigned to defeat. Both teams are probably better than they are getting credit for nationally. Hopefully this game will show that, and whoever loses goes on to make up for it as the season progresses.

Best of luck, Baylor fans!*

*Starting Friday.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.