Baylor basketball survived a pesky Badgers team to reach the Sweet 16.
Indianapolis, Indiana – The setting was Hinkle Fieldhouse and anyone who knows anything about Hinkle knows it was the setting for the state finals in the iconic movie Hoosiers. This year, the NCAA Tournament is setting up to be a Hoosiers-type film all its own as teams like Abilene Christian and Loyola-Chicago are writing their own script.
In the second game of the day, Hinkle Fieldhouse was host to the second #1 seed playing in the tourney’s second round as Baylor took on the Badgers of Wisconsin. Wisconsin was not intimidated and came out on fire pushing to a 7-0 lead until the Bears went on a 7-0 run of their own and gave us the game’s first tie.
From then on, Baylor began dominating every aspect of the game pushing the lead up to 11 with just over five minutes left in the first half. The whole first half could be wrapped up in a sequence that occurred right before the half. The Bears grabbed the ball off a Wisconsin made three and pushed it quick in transition where Adam Flagler drained a three-point bucket from Davion Mitchell and allowed the Bears to go into the locker room up 42-29.
The second half began as it ended. Baylor hit their next three shots and the lead was 18. Little by little, the Badgers cut into the Bear lead and never quit fighting dwindling the lead to seven with 9:36 to go. The game at that point was nearly even as both Baylor and Wisconsin were shooting nearly 50% from the 3 point line. The biggest difference was turnovers as the Badgers turnover differential was +9. D’Mitrik Trice did all he could to keep the Badgers in the ballgame… but with the offensive game plan of the Bears to spread out the offense and attack the basket, there was nothing Wisconsin could do to contain the guards of the Bears. Anytime the defense collapsed Mitchell, Teague or Butler would make them pay from the perimeter. At the under four media timeout at 3:18, the Baylor defense had held the Badgers to no points through the last four minutes.
From there it was all Baylor the rest of the way. Wisconsin did their best to stay in the game but the Bear defense was too strong and too active to allow any comeback.
1) Baylor Basketball Is Five Strong All Day Long
The Baylor Bears proved to Wisconsin that there would be no upset in their quest for a national championship. Wisconsin showed no quit but Baylor was five strong, five quick, and five athletic all over the court all day long. No matter what or where Wisconsin did or went Baylor was there to match them tow to toe.
2) Baylor Basketball Was Better From 3 Range Than Mid Range
Coach Scott Drew had his offense spread out in the fun and gun like the Near football team on a Waco Saturday afternoon. No matter where the Baylor starters shot it from, they were always 50% sure if it going it compared to barely over 20% from the interior. For Baylor to finish off their goal of winning a national championship, they will have to be better from the 2’s and not rely solely on the 3’s. There is a saying.. “Teams live and die by the three.” If Baylor chooses this philosophy, a good defensive team may be the Bears’ downfall from attaining a Final Four.
3) Matthew Mayer Needs To Win The Sixth Man Of The Year Award
For all the hype that Baylor has been given with its lineup of MaCio Teague, Javion Mitchell, and Jared Butler, one guy proved he is the best sixth man in the nation on what may be the best team in the nation. Matthew Mayer from Westlake HS in Texas in Austin might not look the part of a major division one athlete but he plays the role better than any in the nation. While the focus of the Badgers might have been on the Big Three of the Bears, Matthew Mayer stepped right in and did all the garbage work that doesn’t get in the box score. Whether it was loose balls, rebounds, assist on oops to his teammates, or shooting the three from downtown Indianapolis, Matthew Mayer proved he is the only underlying force that will get Baylor to the promised land. Whenever Scott Drew needs some fuel additive to go into the Baylor tank… be sure to see Matthew Mayer on the floor and watch the supercharged vehicle known as the Baylor Bears gooooo!