Seems everyone's picking the No. 3 Baylor Bears to get out of New Orleans and into the Sweet 16 in Houston. How sweet that would be.
That Bears (25-7) have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1950, when only eight teams made the NCAA tournament. Now some even think Baylor's headed to the Elite 8. A fashionable pick indeed, but the Bears have good reason to believe they can survive and advance. They have three key ingredients, a sharp backcourt, a post game and interior defense.
No. 15 Sam Houston State (25-7) is Baylor's first-round opponent.
“I know it is a compliment when people speak highly of you. At the same time, I think our team understands the importance of each and every game and understands we cannot get caught up in what people say," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "If we did, we would not have been able to get to this point and if we take the positive things they are saying now, we will not last at this point very long."
Drew is relying on his club's upperclassmen to handle the pressure and keep everyone level-leaded. That starts with intelligent senior point guard Tweety Carter, junior shooting guard LaceDarius Dunn, junior forward Ekpe Udoh, who is playing in his first NCAA tournament, and often overlooked senior center Josh Lomers, who fills a role about as well as anyone in the country.
"This time of the year it is about the small things because everybody is good," said Udoh, who averaged 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two Big 12 tournament games. "I think this week we really have to focus and exaggerate on the small things before Sam Houston State and just come ready and prepared, and not let a possession go where you did not try your hardest."