Baylor has beaten Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, and Louisville already, three of those on neutral courts. Xavier now gets them at home, where they dispatched the Ducks by 17. Xavier has beaten some solid teams so far, but nothing like what they will face against the Baylor Bears.
The addition of Kaiser Gates gives them the ability to go to a Golden State-type lineup which could cause the Bears some problems.
Styles of play
The Baylor Bears play slowly and they pound the ball inside, not exciting to watch, but very effective. Only 24.6% of their points come from behind the arc and they’re fine with that because they shoot 54% inside the arc and 69% at the rim. They’re going to get the ball inside, and they don’t care how long it takes.The Bears are solid on the offensive glass, Short of outside shooting, they don’t have a weakness on offense.
Defensively, there’s nothing that they don’t do well. They allow very few offensive rebounds. They will sit in their defense and contest every shot.
Xavier has it all on offense, they play at a faster pace than Baylor and the question will be what pace is the game played at? This game against the Bears 1-3-1 trap will be the first game that the Muskies need Myles Davis. Can X handle the Bears half-court pressure? Baylor’s biggest problem will be are they deep enough to battle with Xavier?
Keys to the game
The biggest key for Xavier will be not to fall behind early and let the Bears slow the pace down. Foul trouble will be huge for Baylor, the Bears only go 8 or 9 deep, any kind of foul trouble could cause them major problems. Xavier does not play at breakneck speed, but they must make the Bears play faster than they want to. Xavier must be able to beat the zone.
This game is an elite eight matchup in December between two evenly matched teams. If X had Myles Davis this game would be a no-brainer, but they don’t have him back yet. I will go with the Bears here in a close game. Baylor 66 Xavier 64