#3 Baylor Bears vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats -8 — South Regional Final
Indiana played exceptionally well Friday night. And Kentucky still won by 12 points. So it has gone of late for the Kentucky Wildcats, who have now won 14 of their last 16 games by more than the eight points they are laying tonight against Baylor. However the Bears bring something to the party none of their opponents this season outside of North Carolina have been able to; an NBA-caliber front line to contend with.
So will it be enough to keep Baylor in the ballgame tonight? Or will the Kentucky steamroll continue?
I have been very pro-Baylor the entire NCAA Tournament. Their talent is out-of-this world, and as we have seen for MOST of this tournament the teams with the most NBA and Euro talent have largely advanced. Other than Duke… but that’s another column for another day. Ohio State over Syracuse was an excellent example. Syracuse had a better season, but especially without Fab Melo, Ohio State just had more elite talent. In the end, it was too much. Same with Kentucky and Indiana earlier this week. Indiana played great, but Kentucky just had too much elite talent.
Elite talent is the main reason Baylor raced to a fantastic 30-7 record. They overwhelmed most teams they faced. Quincy Acy made a personal highlight reel Friday night against poor Kenny Frease and Xavier. Frease had a fantastic ballgame, but just won’t ever have the fleetness of foot to contain a high-flyer like Acy. The same with Perry Jones III. “PJ3” has an unfortunate habit of vanishing against top tier competition, but his unbelievable skill range still has NBA scout salivating and lands him in the top 5 in most mock NBA Draft, should the sophomore decide to depart.
However, as a wagerer you have to be troubled by Baylor’s cumulative 1-5 mark against the two top teams they faced this season, Kansas and Missouri. That run includes home losses to each. If top ten teams like KU and Mizzou were too much for them, what do you think the most talented team to come along in at least five years is going to do to them!?!
I don’t see anything stopping the UK express today. Baylor has the talent to keep it interesting, but Kentucky is just too quick, too relentless, too diverse in their points of attack; shut down Anthony Davis? Terrance Jones is deadly. Slow night for the Cats’ bigs? No problem. Michael Kidd-Gilchrest simply goes into beast-mode like he did Friday night. And lost in the shuffle is the offensive explosiveness of Darius Miller and Doron Lamb, who quietly carried the Wildcats for stretches against a resilient Indiana team.
This Kentucky team will have to play their worst game of the season while Baylor plays their best to lose today. I don’t think either happen. The Cats have had no trouble winning by double-digits, and I think they do the same thing this afternoon in Cat-lanta, advancing to their second straight Final Four and heading to N’Awlins as the prohibitive favorite.