(3) Baylor vs. (14) South Dakota St: South Region
Baylor 27-7, 12-6 Big 12 (At large)
South Dakota State 27-7, 15-3 Summit (Conference Tourney Champions)
Time: 7:27 p.m. Thursday
Location: The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.
Winner will face: (6) UNLV or (11) Colorado, Saturday
Baylor No. 9 AP; No.10 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
South Dakota State 49
Line: Baylor -7½ (O/U 140½)
Players to Watch
Baylor: F Perry Jones III, 6-11 So. (14 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 50.3% FG); G Pierre Jackson, 5-10 Jr. (13.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.7 spg); F Quincy Acy, 6-7 Sr. (11.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 56.7% FG). Jackson, who was the National JUCO Player of the Year last year at Southern Idaho, has made Baylor a viable Final 4 option. He’s the team’s 2nd-leading scorer and he led the Bears in assists and steals.
S.D. State: G Nate Wolters, 6-4 Jr. (21.3, 6 apg, 5.2 rpg); F Jordan Dykstra, 6-8 So. (11.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 48.6% 3s); F Griffan Callahan, 6-4 Sr. (10.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.4 spg). Wolters, who had 67 points and 16 assists during the Jackrabbits Summit League Tournament run, is the only player in the nation who is averaging at least 21 points, six assist, five rebounds and 1.5 steals.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Baylor: The Bears are as big, athletic and skilled as any team in the country. With 6-11 Jones and 6-9 freshman Quincy Miller, Baylor is a matchup nightmare for most teams. Baylor shot 47 percent from the field, 38.1 from the 3-point line and 75.1 from the free throw line. They ranked in the top-37 in the nation in all three categories.
S.D. State: Wolters gets to the rim almost at will, creates opportunities for his teammates and is a great finisher. Behind Wolters, SDSU turns the ball over just 10.5 times per game – one of the best rates in the country. The Jackrabbits have five players who made at least 32 3s this year, including Callahan, who made 75, and Dykstra, 51. If the Rabbits are on, they can compete with anyone. They beat Washington – a team with similar skill to Baylor – by 19 points on the road, so don’t expect them to be phased.
Why East Team is Vulnerable
Baylor: Despite their size and skill, Baylor is often too passive and finesse. For example, Jones shot 29 percent from the 3-point line, yet he hoisted 31 of them this season. The Bears out-rebounded their opponents by just three per game despite their length and they allowed opponents to shoot 45.9 percent from the floor and 36.3 percent from deep. Turnovers have also plagued them at times.
S.D. State: The Jackrabbits have almost no inside presence. They allowed opponents to shoot 44.9 percent against them and they had just a plus-0.7 rebounding margin in league play. Outside of Wolters, SDSU has no real athleticism. Competing with Baylor on the glass and getting 3-point shots over the long Bears could prove very difficult.
The Bottom Line: Baylor’s athleticism will completely overwhelm the Jackrabbits.
The Pick: Baylor 87, South Dakota State 69
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-148-6 (Through Sunday, March 11)