Preview: #5 Baylor vs. #12 Yale

#5 Baylor vs. #12 Yale
Thursday, 1:45 PM CT
CBS

Baylor has a difficult first round matchup against a tough Yale squad who had to win their conference tournament to get here. Baylor was recently knocked out of the Big 12 Tournament Semi-finals by Kansas, losing to them for the third time this season. However, the Bears have shown a talent at playing on the road, and with this game being in Rhode Island, this will essentially be a home game for Yale. Yale won the Ivy League, beating Columbia in convincing fashion. This matchup could be tough for Baylor, and we all know the history of the 5 vs. 12 seed.

Match-Up to Watch
The match-up that I’m interested in is if Johnathan Motley and Rico Gathers can control Justin Sears. If they can accomplish this, it would greatly decrease the offensive attack of the Bulldogs. Sears has 15.8 points per game and is a serious offensive force. The way to do this might be through getting him in foul trouble (like they did to Prince Ibeh in the Texas game) or through just solid defense, but this is definitely a match-up to watch.

X-Factor for Baylor
I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone in saying that Baylor’s X-Factor is Taurean Prince. He’s the green-room guy after all. He played poorly and was eventually fouled out in the Kansas game, where he could have made a huge difference. If he is on his A-game, both in scoring and defense, this team moves to a whole other level and can be electric. If he is playing poorly, the team seems to lack energy and can get frustrated.

X-Factor for Yale
To me the first thing that stood up when I looked at this match-up was the location: Rhode Island. Yale is located only about an hour and a half drive from where this game is being played as opposed to Baylor, which is located more than a day’s drive away, and even the flight would take longer. So to me, the x-factor in this game for Yale is the hometown crowd. They haven’t lost a game at home this season, and while Baylor plays well on the road, Yale plays better at home. If they can take advantage of their fans and the crowd noise, they could be very difficult to beat.

Key Stat
These teams stats are pretty similar. The one thing that is different is the quality wins and the free throw percentage. Baylor has six wins over tournament teams, while Yale has none. To be fair, Baylor does have more chances, while Yale plays in a league where only the winner gets in. The free-throw percentage is almost 7% different in Baylor’s favor, and while this isn’t the way to win the game, it can definitely be beneficial to be able to make your free-throws.

Prediction
I think this will be a close game, and a good match-up. When Ishmael Wainwright first heard about the matchup, he said “that means we gotta lock up. We gotta be locked in, every possession.” This shows that the Bears are not looking past Yale, and they know the pain that can come with an upset from last year. This focus and attention to Yale makes me think that Baylor will come out on top, 70-65 over the Yale Bulldogs.

Sic ’em
Catherine Cleworth
Baylor University Class of 2019

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