The tournament is finally here and needless to say, the Big 12 had a great year. A team I thought would make the conference it's personal playground was the Baylor Bears. They didn't win the conference but they didn't need to. More importantly, they managed to remain among the top 15 teams in college basketball.
Since we know what to expect from the Bears this will mainly be a pseudo-scouting report on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Cool nickname by the way.
In a 30+ game season, even the best of teams will have one or two embarrassing losses. Louisville lost to Providence by 31 and even Missouri lost one they weren't supposed to at Oklahoma State. But Baylor hasn't had any of those. All of their defeats have come against teams in the NCAA Tournament. And when you have Perry Jones III dominating like he did last week in Kansas City, there's no doubt their über-talented cast of characters can get them back to a Regional Final. And if you remember, the Bears were a 3 seed in the South Region two years ago when they also made the Elite 8.
The conference home to the Jackrabbits, the Summit League, had a great year in its own right. Had St. Bonaventure not won the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship on Sunday, fellow conference foe Oral Roberts was one of six teams the NCAA Tournament Committee would have voted on to put in the field of 68.
SDSU's best player is point guard Nate Wolters, which got me thinking: how many Nates currently play college ball? Google did me no favors as results for "college basketball nate" only gets you as far as Nate Robinson's college days at Washington and a Wiki page of Nathan Scott from the show One Tree Hill. But thanks to Basketball Reference, I later found that there are 20 current players who go by Nate in NCAA Division 1 hoops. I'm happy there's a Nate out there who can ball. We need more of them.
I first heard about Wolters after his 34-point, 7-assist performance against Washington back on December 18th. He's averaged 21 a game to go along with five boards and six dimes per contest. The Jackrabbits are a three-point oriented team so that should keep them in the game for maybe a half, but Baylor has a clear advantage in size and athleticism down low. Why? Because the 6-4 Wolters is also SDSU's leading rebounder.
But as we know. stranger things have happened in March. Good teams can overlook opponents from non-power conferences (see Kansas in the last decade) and even at their best, Goliaths sometimes can't handle the Davids (see every cinderella team ever).
This second round battle between the Bears and Jackrabbits can be seen tonight at approximately 6:27 central time on TruTV.
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