Photo Credit: Clemson Athletcs

NCAA Basketball Tournament Second-Round Basketball Preview against the Baylor Bears

The Clemson Tigers proved a lot of pundits wrong with their convincing win against New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  All the talk coming into their round of 32 matchup with the Baylor Bears is focused on their dependency on shooting the 3’s.  New Mexico was thought to shoot a lot of 3’s too.

Coach Brad Brownell opened his press conference today talking about how different each team are regardless of perceived similarities in philosophy.  

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of correlation (between the two teams) because the offenses are different and the players are different.” Brownell continued, “Certainly there’s middle pick-and-roll from both teams. So there are some things there that maybe we can use.  But we’ve got to duplicate (our performance) against a talented team that’s a little more dynamic from the 3-point line. They certainly shoot the ball better than New Mexico did.”

Regardless of the viewer’s perception of both teams, the reality is that Baylor lives and dies at the 3-point line, but doesn’t sleep on their lineup as a whole.  

The Bears have 6 players who average more than double-digit points per game.  

Projected Starters for the Baylor Bears:

Name (Year)Position‘24 Statistics
Jalen Bridges (Sr)Forward12.2 pts, 5.7 rebs, 1.4 asst, 46.2 FG%
Yves Missi (Fr)Center11.0 pts, 5.7 rebs, 0.4 asst, 62.1 FG%
Ja’Kobe Walter (Fr)Guard14.4 pts, 4.4 rebs, 1.4 asst, 37.3 FG%
RayJ Dennis (Sr)Guard13.2 pts, 3.8 rebs, 6.9 asst, 48.2 FG%
Jayden Nunn (Jr)Guard10.7 pts, 2.6 rebs, 2.0 asst., 46.6 FG%

Here is a look at the Tigers and Bears by the numbers:

Points Per Game

Clemson: 77.4, Baylor: 80.9

Rebounds Per Game

Clemson: 36.6, Baylor: 35.2

Leading Scorers: 

Clemson: PJ Hall (18.7), Joe Girard (15.4), Chase Hunter (12.5)

Baylor: Ja’Kobe Walter (14.4), RayJ Dennis (13.2), Jalen Bridges (12.2), Yves Missi (11.0), Langston Love (11.0), Jayden Nunn (10.7)

Leading Rebounders:

Clemson: Ian Schieffelin (9.5), PJ Hall (6.5)

Baylor: Jalen Bridges (5.7), Yves Missi (5.7)

Clemson played extremely well in their first-round match-up, as did Baylor.  The Bears were barely tested by Colgate in a 25-point victory.  They made 16 of 30 (53%) 3-point shots.  Clemson guard Chase Hunter was asked about that and how they will defend, “I think it’s just coming out again with the same competitive spirit, competitive fight (as we did on Friday). Making sure that as guards we’re getting in with ball screens and making sure we have hot hands and just limiting their 3’s. Just making things hard for them.”

The storyline is the fact that Baylor shoots the 3.  Clemson had its best 3-point defense of the year, only allowing 3 of 23 from New Mexico.  It may not be the only key to success against the Big XII’s Baylor Bears, but it may be one major factor, as it seems that’s all the media is speaking about.

The Round of 32 game between Clemson and Baylor is scheduled for 6:10 pm EST and will be aired on TNT.  The Bears are currently a 4.5-point favorite by ESPNBet over the Tigers. We know how well the Tigers played as an underdog in Round 1.  

The winner of this game will earn a Sweet 16 berth and will play Arizona in Los Angeles, California next Thursday.

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