The Baylor Bears take on the Wisconsin badgers on Thursday in one of the two West region semifinals. Baylor, a six seed is playing their best basketball of the season and is upset-minded after defeating Creighton 85-55. Wisconsin, a two seed, is one of the more talented teams in the tournament, and they are looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005.
Baylor finished in sixth place in the Big 12, a conference that sent six teams to the NCAA tournament that many regarded as one of the deepest conferences in all of college basketball. However, only two of the six teams are still alive in the NCAA tournament. Big 12 champion Kansas was upset in the round of 32 by tenth seeded Stanford.
Baylor is led by outstanding senior forward Cory Jefferson, who averages 13.6 ppg and 8.2 rpg. Jefferson makes up part of a stellar front court that also features 7-foot-1 sophomore Isaiah Austin who adds 11.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg. Baylor’s front court is complimented by an impressive backcourt of Bradley Heslip and Kenny Cherry who average 11.9 and 11.5 ppg respectively.
Baylor went on an impressive Big 12 tournament run defeating Oklahoma and Texas both of whom are NCAA tournament teams before ultimately losing to Iowa State 74-65 in the conference championship game.
Wisconsin finished second in the Big 10 in a conference that was not as strong as it usually is this year. However, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan are all still alive from the conference and are all favorites in their Sweet 16 matchups. Wisconsin only made it to the Big 10 conference tournament semifinals where they lost to eventual conference champion Michigan State.
Wisconsin is led by seven foot junior Frank Kaminsky who averages 13.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Kaminsky is joined by sophomore forward Sam Dekker who contributes 12.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg.
How they both got here:
Baylor won three games in the Big 12 conference tournament and has been playing some of their best basketball of the season. The sixth seeded Bears defeated Nebraska 74-60 in the second round of the tournament and then crushed three seeded Creighton 85-55 in the round of 32.
Wisconsin lost in the semifinals of the Big 10 tournament. Had they won the conference tournament they probably would have been able to steal the final one seed in the tournament. The Badgers defeated American 75-35 in the second round and survived a minor scare from Oregon 82-75.
What will happen:
I think that Baylor will pull off the upset here. I have not been a big supporter or believer in Wisconsin basketball this season and Baylor is playing as well as anyone in the tournament right now. They have a superior offense to Wisconsin and should be able to win fairly easily. Although, if Wisconsin can keep it close they have had experience winning close games and could pull this one out.
The game will be on Thursday at 7:47 pm on TBS.