#3 Baylor Bears vs #14 New Mexico State Aggies
12:40 ET, TRU TV
Baylor Bears 25-7, (12-6)
Player to Watch: Johnathan Motley (17.3 PPG 9.9 RPG)
Johnathan Motley has been the Bears best player on the Bears leading the team in scoring and rebounding and is a Top-15 finalist for National Player of the year. Motley has the size and athleticism to score at will against this undersized Aggies team.
X Factor: Size
This Bears have been lead by their size and athleticism all season long and it has been especially helpful on the defensive end where the Bears were the leaders in fewest point allowed per game in the Big 12 with 62.7. With their length and athleticism it will be able to outrebound the Aggies and create havoc to inside scoring of the Aggies as they are the Big 12 leaders in blocks.
New Mexico State Aggies 28-5, (11-3)
Player to Watch: Ian Baker (16.6 PPG 4.3 RPG 4.1 APG)
Ian Baker is the unquestioned leader of the Aggies having played in the NCAA Tournament twice before, he also won the Player of the year in the WAC. Baker is able to get his teammates involved while being able to lead the team in scoring.
X Factor: Three point Shooting
The Bears are known for their zone defense and not allowing teams to score inside the paint meaning teams generally will have to make threes to beat the Bears. Generally this is not a strength for the Aggies as they are averaging only 33 percent from beyond the arc. If they are going to pull off the upset they must improve that and make shots from deep.
Match-Up to Watch: Manu Lecomte vs. Ian Baker
This is a matchup of the two point guards, both have been huge contributors and have made big shots for their teams. Both have been relied upon to create shots for others and for themselves and both are close to an assist to turnover ratio of 2 to 1. This will
be a fun matchup inside this game if you are looking for a matchup of two very good point guards.
Key Stat: Baylor’s Rebounding
Last year Baylor was asked “How did Yale Outrebound Baylor?” This year the Bears went out and proved that they were an elite rebounding team as they finished 4th in the NCAA in rebounding margin. If they can continue to win the rebound battle they will hold a mostly bad shooting teams to one shot per possession they should be able to win this game pretty comfortably.
Prediction: Baylor Bears 69, New Mexico State Aggies 46
The Bears are known for choking in the NCAA Tournament in recent years as they lost in 2015 to Georgia State and last year to Yale, but this year that trend will end. Look for the Bears to control this game from start to finish and win this game comfortably.