With the final set of “Third Round” games finishing up Sunday night, it’s time for the Sweet 16. As we do every year, we will have in-depth previews of each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchup this weekend.
In this post, we preview the South Region Sweet 16 matchup between the #3 seed Baylor Bears and the 10th-seeded Xavier Musketeers.
Baylor-Xavier Sweet 16 Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #3 Baylor v #10 Xavier in South Region
- Baylor-Xavier Date: Friday, 3/23
- Baylor-Xavier Tip Time: TBA
- Baylor-Xavier Location: Atlanta
- Baylor-Xavier TV: TBA
- Baylor-Xavier Announcers: TBA
- Baylor-Xavier Point Spread: TBA
- Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Atlanta
Baylor-Xavier Analysis and Prediction
In a matchup that features two teams who spent time in the Top 10 this season, Xavier and Baylor will square off in Atlanta on Friday. The Bears got nine three-pointers from sharpshooter Brady Heslip in Saturday’s 17-point win over Colorado, while Pierre Jackson added 15 points and 10 assists. Xavier knocked off upstart Lehigh on Sunday behind a career game from big man Kenny Frease, who went off for 25 points and 13 boards. Guard Tu Holloway added 21 points in the 12-point victory.
Baylor ranks 12th in adjusted offensive efficiency, thanks in large part to strong offensive rebounding and impressive shooting, particularly from the outside. The Bears grab 38 percent of their own misses this season, but Xavier has been solid on the defensive glass throughout the season. Look for a battle on the glass between Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III for Baylor and Kenny Frease and Andre Walker for Xavier.
The Bears are hitting over 38 percent from three-point land this season, with both Heslip and Jackson making over 41 percent of their attempts. The team is also solid inside the arc at 50.3 percent, and they make 75 percent from the line as well. However, Xavier ranks in the Top 70 against both two- and three-pointers, so it’s another area where something has to give.
Otherwise, Baylor has been somewhat turnover prone, but Xavier doesn’t have a high defensive turnover rate. And both teams are in the middle of the road in terms of free throw rate. All in all, seems like a pretty even matchup on that end of the floor. One thing that could be a factor is the health of Xavier freshman Dez Wells, who injured his toe on Sunday. His athleticism on both ends of the floor would be a huge loss for the Muskies if he can’t go.
Offensively, Xavier’s greatest strength is its ability to get to the free throw line, as evidenced by a free throw rate over 41. However, Baylor has done a decent job keeping its opponents off the stripe with an impressive 31.7 mark against them. Finding a way to get to the line will be critical for Xavier in this matchup, as guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons both like to attack the basket.
Don’t expect many turnovers for the Musketeers, as they rarely cough it up and the Bears rarely take it away. Otherwise, Xavier doesn’t do anything exceptionally well on offense, and the same can be said of Baylor’s defense, with the exception of solid two-point defense thanks to the presence of multiple shot-blockers in the lane. One potential area of concern for the Bears is the defensive glass, where they have been victimized at times this year. Xavier doesn’t have a high offensive rebounding percentage, but they would be well served to send an extra man to the glass when shots go up.
In terms of individual matchups, I can’t wait to see Pierre Jackson and Tu Holloway go at it. Both are aggressive point guards who can score in bunches. Xavier should definitely have its hands full with Baylor’s long and talented front line, and it will need to be a group effort to shut them down.
Xavier seems to be regaining some of the confidence it had earlier in the season, but I think the Bears just have too much talent up front. Unlike Lehigh, Baylor has guys who can bang with Frease inside while forcing him to defend on the other end.
Predicted Winner: Baylor
Baylor Bears Team Capsule
- Conference: Big 12
- Record: 27-7 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 10-7
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State (2), Saint Mary’s, San Diego State, Texas (2), West Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Kansas (2), Missouri (3), Kansas State, Iowa State
- Player to Watch: Pierre Jackson (5’10” G, Jr.) – 13.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 43.4 3P%
Baylor Bottoms Line:
Few teams in the country can match Baylor in terms of pure talent, particularly along the front line. However, the Bears went just 4-7 against other teams in the top half of the Big 12, which has some people questioning their toughness as well as Scott Drew’s coaching. Five Baylor players score at least 9.6 points per game, with sophomore Perry Jones III leading the team in both points and rebounds.
PJ3 has been wildly criticized for his lack of intensity and aggressiveness, but he was fantastic in the Big 12 Tournament, which should give him plenty of confidence. Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller join him up from, with Acy a do-it-all competitor whose toughness shines through on both ends of the floor and Miller an impressive freshman with loads of potential. In the backcourt, juco transfer Pierre Jackson is second on the team in scoring and leads the Bears in assists and steals. He’s made a number of clutch plays this season but can get out of control at times. Brady Heslip knocks down over 43 percent from beyond the arc, and opponents simply can’t allow him to get loose on the perimeter.
Baylor ranks in the Top 15 in offensive efficiency thanks to a strong presence on the offensive glass and impressive shooting both inside and outside of the arc. Defensively, they have solid block and steal percentages, but they have routinely been hurt on the offensive glass and have a tendency to give up points in bunches when things start to go awry.
Xavier Musketeers Team Capsule
- Conference: Atlantic 10
- Record: 21-12 (10-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 5-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Purdue, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Vanderbilt
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Gonzaga, Long Beach State, Memphis, Saint Louis (2), Temple
- Player to Watch: Tu Holloway (6’0” G, Sr.) – 17.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.6 spg
Xavier Bottoms Line:
Xavier’s brawl with Cincinnati in December earned them plenty of negative press, and the team really struggled even after the suspensions had passed. However, they rebounded for a run to the A-10 Final, which solidified their tournament bid. While the Musketeers were once touted as a potential Final Four squad, their final offensive and defensive efficiency numbers aren’t particularly impressive, as they rank outside the Top 60 on both ends of the floor. Their best attributes are a low turnover rate and a solid ability to get to the free throw line, but the Musketeers have struggled to consistently make shots and aren’t strong on the offensive glass.
Senior guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons shoulder the load on offense, as both players score at least 15 points per game with Lyons hitting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. Holloway leads the team in assists and steals and isn’t afraid to attack the basket and draw contact, as evidenced by his high free throw rate. If the game is tight late, one of these guys will end up taking the big shot. Kenny Frease is the team’s top low post threat and averages around nine points and six rebounds, with solid rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor. Freshman Dez Wells is an explosive athlete who can make highlight reel plays and is shooting over 55 percent on two-pointers. Guard play is often critical in March, which certainly makes Xavier an interesting team.
South Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads
|Western Kentucky def Miss Val St. 59-58||Tue, 3/13||6:40 ET||Dayton||Nantz-Kellogg-Kerr||truTV||WKU -4.5|
|1||#1 Kentucky def #16 Western Kentucky 81-66||Thu, 3/15||6:50 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||TBS||UK -24.5|
|2||#8 Iowa State def #9 UConn 77-64||Thu, 3/15||9:15 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||TBS||CON -2|
|3||#4 Indiana def #13 New Mexico State 79-66||Thu, 3/15||9:40 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||CBS||IU -6.5|
|4||#12 VCU def #5 Wichita State 62-59||Thu, 3/15||7:15 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||CBS||WICH -6|
|5||#15 Lehigh def #2 Duke 75-70||Fri, 3/16||7:15 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||TBS||DUKE -12|
|6||#10 Xavier def #7 Notre Dame 67-63||Fri, 3/16||9:40 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||TBS||ND -2.5|
|7||#3 Baylor def #14 South Dakota State 68-60||Thu, 3/15||7:27 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||truTV||BAY -8|
|8||#11 Colorado def #6 UNLV 68-64||Thu, 3/15||9:52 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||truTV||UNLV -5|
|9||#1 Kentucky def #8 Iowa State 87-71||Sat, 3/17||7:45 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||CBS||UK -11.5|
|10||#4 Indiana def #12 VCU 63-61||Sat, 3/17||7:10 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||TBS||IU -6|
|11||#10 Xavier def #15 Lehigh 70-58||Sun, 3/18||7:45 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||truTV|
|12||#3 Baylor def #11 Colorado 80-63||Sat, 3/17||8:40 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||TNT||BAY -7.5|
|13||#1 Kentucky v #4 Indiana||Fri, 3/23||Atlanta||UK -9|
|14||#3 Baylor v #10 Xavier||Fri, 3/23||Atlanta||BAY -6|
|ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL|
|15||Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner||Sun, 3/25||Atlanta|