Scott Drew has guided his team through a successful fifteen games this season, helping the Baylor Bears receive their crown as the new top dog. Jonathan Motley, Jo Lual-Acuil, Manu Lecomte and All Freeman, not to mention Ishmail Wainright have transformed the Bears into a solid crew. Information coming out of site offers NCAA Basketball odds suggests that things have settled down for the Bears.
Things are also only going to get tougher from this point, especially starting with games on the road against the Mountaineers and the Kansas State Wildcats.
But the Bears do not even look worried, probably because of their veteran leadership and the timely schedule that works in their favor this year. Baylor has so many upperclassmen to spare this time around that only one freshman has made an appearance for the team so far.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t talent hiding in Scott Drew’s crop of freshmen; however, most coaches prefer the experience that upperclassmen bring to the table than raw talent. It should be noted that Baylor has enough distance between its Kansas and West Virginia matches to prepare adequately for both games.
Admittedly, the Big 12 is no joke and the Bears could just as easily slip up; Baylor has to take things one game at a time. While the Bears are hogging most of the attention these days, pundits cannot help but laud the Butler Bulldogs for their recent successes.
The Bulldogs lost at St. John at the end of 2016, and the defeat gave them the kick they needed to make changes and begin a three-game winning streak to run their Big East record to 3-1.
Even with their 3-0 record, Xavier cannot afford to be complacent, what with the likes of Creighton, Villanova and now Butler on their tail. Butler has a hard-nosed defense that pushed the likes of Villanova to the brink. As well as Butler performed against Villanova, things were not as smooth sailing in the Georgetown game.
Luckily for Chris Hoffman, they were able to rectify their mistakes in overtime. Georgetown was perfectly positioned to pull off a primetime win before Butler extinguished their hopes.
Butler hasn’t been alone in making quick gains. The Tar Heels from the ACC conference wouldn’t let their sloppy loss to Georgia Tech define them, instead rebounding by soundly beating Clemson and NC State.
While everyone is right to buzz about Joel Berry II and his 25 points, the return of junior swingman Theo Pinson is also worth noting; as one of the best on-ball defenders in the Tar Heels team, Theo’s impact was almost immediate, giving the team’s defense the spark it needed to stand up to NC State’s assaults.
Over to the Seminoles, Head Coach Leonard Hamilton is probably happy with his team which is all the way up to Number 9 in the country. They haven’t made a NCAA appearance since 2012, so they are obviously frothing over at the mouth at the prospect of making a return.
Terance Mann, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Dwayne Bacon have given FSU the pace necessary to shock opponents and rivals left and right. FSU victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday can be attributed to this trio of guards, and they could see their prospects spike if they can only defeat Duke on Tuesday.
FSU has slowly but steadily made their way through a six-game stretch against ranked opponents.