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Tale of the tape

Round Of 32 Matchup: #6 Baylor Vs. #3 Creighton

Baylor missed last year’s tournament, but thanks to a 10-2 run over their final 12 games and a solid effort over Nebraska in the first-round, they’re back and looking for a deep run into the tournament. One thing stands in their way: A seemingly unbeatable force in Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who leads the entire nation in scoring.

(credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

#6 Baylor

#3 Creighton

Bears coach Scott Drew has had some ups and downs with Baylor over the years, but recently, there have been more ups than downs. In 2010, he led a 28-8 team to the Elite Eight and followed that up two years later in 2012 with another Elite Eight run. Last year, the Bears missed the Big Dance, but they ended up winning the NIT. Drew won’t hold anything back this time. Coaching Creighton head coach Greg McDermott has a unique situation that many fathers across the country could only dream of: Not only is his son, Doug McDermott, the star player on his team, but he’s the top scoring player in the country. Certainly a sense of dedication to his boy gives the elder McDermott all the more reason to go deep in the tourney, but the same can unmistakably be said for Doug and looking to not only please his father, but up his stock as a future NBA player.
Baylor has a balanced offense, spread out between two seniors in guard Brady Heslip (11.8 ppg) and forward Cory Jefferson (13.5ppg, 8.4 rpg) and through the emergence of point guard Kenny Chery (11.6 ppg, 5.0 apg). As a whole, the Bears average 75.2 ppg (66th) on 45.6 percent shooting, which is pretty impressive. Hitting shots from back deep is their specialty, shooting 39 percent from long range, which was 28th in the nation during the regular season. But they’re awful at making free throws, hitting only 67.2 percent. Center Isaiah Austin also impressed with 13 points and seven rebounds in the win over Nebraska. Offense When you have what could be the best player in college basketball on your team in Doug McDermott, who leads the nation in scoring with 26.9 points per game, there’s little else a team could wish for. The senior scored at least 22 points in 13 games this season and has topped 30 twelve times. McDermott also enters the tournament with 3,105 career points, and draws ever closer to the No. 4 spot (held by Alphonso Ford) for all-time NCAA scoring. Creighton’s offense has eight wins against the RPI Top 50 throughout this season, including a blowout of Big East regular season champs, Villanova. McDermott also draws a lot of defenders, allowing for his teammates to make open shots, and the leading scorer also did a great job of creating scoring opportunities for his fellow Bluejays against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
The Bears are more solid than they appear on defense, allowing just 64.9 points per game on 42 percent shooting in the regular season. Baylor looked dominant on the opposite end of the court, holding Nebraska to just 16 points in the first half in their first-round match up. This is one defense that has been underrated heading into the tournament, though Creighton will give that defense a run for its money. Defense So much has been said about McDermott and Creighton’s offense, that little attention has been paid to the Bluejays defense. Allowing 67.4 points per game in the regular season, they don’t quite match up to Baylor, but they may not need to if Doug McDermott keeps the Baylor defense working overtime. Flat-out, defense versus defense, Baylor takes the edge here, especially after the Bears shut down Nebraska like they did and floundered against a less-than-tough Louisiana-Lafayette.
Baylor’s bench isn’t that impressive, but it certainly wasn’t tested by the likes of Nebraska in the first round. Creighton will more than likely cause Baylor to have to test some of their bench players, who have seen similar tests against tough foes this season. One bright spot was Rico Gathers netting 11 points against Nebraska. Baylor will need a top effort from Gathers off the bench this time, too. Bench Depth Everything seems like background noise when it comes to Creighton behind the massive presence of Doug McDermott, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a power-packed lineup on the bench. Creighton is deep; deeper than most may think, and if needed, they can pull out any number of weapons. But if McDermott is feeling it, there won’t be any reason to let the bench get cold. If needed, the Bluejays can count on center J.J. Davenport and guard Kevin Brown for a few.

The winner is

(credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
#3 Creighton
3 out of 4

The power of the nation’s leading scorer in Doug McDermott is just too strong. If McDermott is healthy, stays out of foul trouble (which he had no problem doing against Louisiana-Lafayette), and gets that nod from his father and head coach that all young men seek, Creighton should find an easy win and move on in the tournament.

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