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Baylor And Texas Should Advance Into The Second Round

Baylor (-8) vs. South Dakota St.:

The Jackrabbits hopped their way into the tournament by being offensively efficient. South Dakota St. hits their field goals, likes to shoot the long ball, and hardly ever turns the ball over. Baylor is also a team that likes to stroke it. And while the Bears don't value ball control, their length allows them to crash the boards in order to earn back the lost possessions.

The Bears struggled in conference play when faced with better opponents than in its weak non-conference schedule. Much of the blame was directed at Baylor's horrendously bad 1-3-1 zone, but the length and athleticism of the Bears can throw into that zone should work well against the midsized Jackrabbit jump shooters.

Baylor's non-conference matchups against similarly ranked opponents (SDSU is ranked 57th by Ken Pomeroy) is a mixed bag. The Bears beat San Diego State and Northwestern by double digits, but barely squeaked by West Virginia and BYU. By contrast, the Jackrabbits haven't faced any team as talented, athletic, and, well, good as the Bears, and that will be the difference. Baylor pulls away in the second half, 85-72.

Texas vs. Cincinnati (-2):

Call me a homer, but I picked Texas to advance in my brackets. At the very least, the Longhorns haven't shown much ability to beat good teams, but can at least keep it close. Against its five Big 12 opponents ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 30, Texas is just 3-9, but six of those losses are by six points or less. Both Texas and Cincinnati slow tempo, suck at shooting, and crash the offensive boards for extra possessions.

Taken all together, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a low-scoring, close-knit affair, again boding well for Texas to at least cover the spread. Texas wins outright if J'Covan Brown has a monster game and the Bearcats never get hot from 3.

One matchup I'll be watching closely is at point guard, with Myck Kabongo taking on Cashmere Wright. Kabongo is more talented, but Wright's experience and smarts could befuddle the Texas freshman. I'll say Brown brings his A game and Kabongo manages the game more than hurts it. Texas wins with a huge second half from Brown, 61-56.

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