Fear the Beard. K-State was victorious over Xavier in the most exciting game of the tournament NCAA thus far. Back in the W column.
Match-Up: #10 Saint Mary’s Gaels(28-5) vs. #3 Baylor Bears (27-7)
This game has arguably the lowest amount of national hype surrounding any of the Sweet 16 match-ups. However, off the court, there has a been a lot of noise. Out-spoken star center, Omar Samhan of Saint Mary’s has done a lot of talking, with both his mouth and his inside game. Samhan has averaged 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds so far in the NCAA Tournament. Guard Mickey McConnell is averaging 19 points per game and shooting 50% from three-point range. However, Saint Mary’s faces their biggest challenge of season Friday in Houston.
Baylor’s back court attack of LaceDarrius Dunn and Tweety Carter creates match-up problems for opponents. On the season, the back court has averaged 35 points per game. In the NCAA tournament, the duo has combined for 53 total points and is shooting 40% from three-point land. As impressive as the back court is, Baylor’s front court has been even better. Forwards Ekpe Udoh(13.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.8 BPG) and Quincy Acy(9.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG) have been physical inside. Center Josh Lomers(14 points, 7 rebounds vs. ODU) will present a challenge for Samhan.
So far in the NCAA Tournament, Samhan has not faced an inside presence. Baylor’s front court will present problems for Saint Mary’s. Baylor’s back court is superior to Saint Mary’s. Saint Mary’s is one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams. However, they must contain Carter and Dunn while stopping Udoh and Lombers in the post. Saint Mary’s has been one-man show all season. If Samhan gets in foul trouble early, Saint Mary’s will get blown out.
Overall, Baylor is too deep and too talented for Saint Mary’s. The game will be played in Houston, 3 hours away from the Baylor campus. Expect a large turnout from the Baylor faithful. Baylor opened as a 5-point favorite.
The Pick: Baylor Bears(27-7)
March Record: 16-9
Photo Credit: photos.upi.com