Baylor can't afford another 1-for-6 performance from star Perry Jones III.
About six years ago, this match-up would have generated little to no interest. Both teams were bunkmates at the bottom of the Big 12 and more times than not, this game was a shoe-in to air on ESPN Plus (y'all know what that was).
The Baylor Bears have hung around the top half of the polls all year long while the Colorado Buffaloes, the six seed in last week's Pac-12 Tournament, got their miracle run to earn the league's automatic bid.
So a year removed from the Big 12, Baylor-Colorado finally means something. A trip to the Regional Semifinals in Atlanta hang in the balance. I must be dreaming or something.
South Dakota State didn't lay down for Baylor (my boy Nate Wolters!) but that was expected. In BU's first tournament game two years ago, Sam Houston State hung tough with the Bears as well. Don't read too much into Thursday's game because after all, that team went to the Elite 8. Now with Duke out of the picture (I had Baylor beating them anyway), they face an easier road to the Regional Final.
Hopefully Perry Jones III was just shaking off first game jitters and will be back to normal tonight, but the reason they did move on was because of balance. Brady Heslip was awesome from beyond the arc (5-for-10) and Pierre Jackson was an aggressive scorer (18 points of 6-for-11). One thing that may get lost in all of this is the unselfishness of Anthony Jones. He was a starter in his first three years in Waco and now he's coming off the bench and making an impact (11 points on 4-for-5 vs SDSU).
When the Big 12 Championship game was on commercial last Saturday, I watched a little bit of the Colorado-Arizona game and that was some horrible basketball. Passes going out-of bounds. Shot after shot missed. I'm talking about BOTH teams here.
But that was a different Buffaloes team I saw on Thursday. UNLV's a team most thought would be able to get to Regionals and for a good chunk of the game, Colorado was blowing them out. Tad Boyle's a great coach. Nate Tomlinson (Another one! That's gotta be some record!) is a senior that can be solid at times and other times look lost. You may know that Utah transfer Carlon Brown has been a YouTube sensation for years and even I remember Andre Roberson's uncanny ability to rebound the basketball. The Buffs have a legitimate shot to get this one.
Hopefully both teams didn't shred their scouting reports on each other.
Baylor-Colorado can be seen tonight at approximately 7:40 central time (or shortly after the Vanderbilt-Wisconsin game ends) on TNT.