It’s games like these between two fringe Top 25 teams — Baylor is ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll, while Colorado received 83 votes — that make or break resumes come March. In Dallas on Friday evening, Baylor grinded out a 72-60 victory against Colorado. The Bears led for much of the game, and fended off a late Buffaloes rally to earn the win.
An aggressive statement to make in November on opening night already discussing tournament resumes? Yes, without question. But, how often do coaches and teams analyze their own resumes in March and stare at a game that is the difference between earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and being one of the last teams out, or even between a No. 5 seed and No. 8 seed? Colorado is going to have a good season, and this win will be a feather in Baylor’s cap.
Colorado wasn’t at their best tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker — two of Colorado’s top players — combined to shoot 7-28 from the field; a performance like that from these two may not happen again this season. Nevertheless, this is a solid win for a Scott Drew and his Baylor squad looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year.
The much maligned Baylor defense over the past few seasons stood tall against Colorado allowing just 60 points on 31.8% shooting. Ironically enough, it was the defense and toughness — how often can you say that about Baylor? — that willed the Bears’ way to a win. Furthermore, Baylor found their point guard in the form of Kenny Chery who will fill the void Pierre Jackson left. Chery spent two seasons at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, MO prior to transferring to Baylor. Against Colorado, Chery stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Colorado is a good basketball team — a Top 25 caliber team. They didn’t look it tonight, but Dinwiddie and Booker are much better than they showed. It was an off night for the two — and really for the entire team as a whole with the exception of Josh Scott — but they will be fine going forward.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.
From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:
Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.
2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.
3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.
4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.
5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).
CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.
Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.
In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.
And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.
Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.
And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.
This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.