Rarely is a team from the Big 12 seen as a Cinderella but Baylor has climbed back from the depths of the 2003 murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson and an NCAA investigation into violations that left the program decimated.
Scott Drew took on the unenviable task of rebuilding the program from the ashes, winning only 21 games from 2003-2006 but the Bears made a run to the NIT Championship Game last year, fueling this year’s dream season. Drew, the son of Valparaiso Coach Homer Drew and brother of NCAA Tournament last-second shot legend Bryce, boasts a team with balance, scoring and defensive intensity.
The Bears have everything you look for in an NCAA Tournament team—an experienced senior point guard (Tweety Carter), an explosive scorer (LaceDarius Dunn) a first-round NBA prospect in the Big 12’s leading shotblocker (6-10 Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh). Mix in 7-foot space-eater Josh Lomers and two more high-flying wingmen in 6-10 Anthony Jones and 6-7 Quincy Acy and you’ve got a team to be reckoned with. Jones put on a dunking exhibition with 10 slams in Baylor’s regular-season finale, a 15-point win over Texas.
Picked 10th in the Big 12 pre-season poll, I love the way this team has jelled and competed all season and I look for them to make a deep tourney run.
HOW FAR CAN THEY GO? This team has only lost one game outside of the Big 12 all season and stood toe-to-toe with Kansas and Kansas State. I just have to root for Scott Drew and the job he’s done in rebuilding a decimated Baylor program. He’s absorbed a lot of lumps along the way, now it’s his turn to a dish few out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears make a run to the Final Four, but an Elite 8 appearance would be a reason to rejoice.