NIT W2W4: Baylor vs. BYU
Tipoff is at 6 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN2.
FINAL FOUR! Well, not the real Final Four -- that's in Atlanta this coming weekend. Baylor and BYU are in the NIT final four, along with Maryland and Iowa.
All four of these programs are trying to build some momentum heading into next season, with hopes of getting back to the Big Dance in 2014. And the NIT can serve as a building block. Wichita State won the NIT two years ago, and now the Shockers are in the NCAA Final Four, two wins away from a national championship.
Baylor is a No. 2 seed in this tournament, while BYU is a No. 3 seed. The two teams played each other on Dec. 21 -- Baylor won comfortably at home, 79-64.
THE BEARS: Baylor was picked to finish second in the Big 12 in the preseason, but ended up in sixth place. The Bears lost six of their final eight regular season games, before defeating Long Beach State, Arizona State and Providence -- all at home -- to earn a trip to New York.
Three players average in double figures, led by 5-foot-10 guard Pierre Jackson (19.7 ppg, 6.9 apg). The other two are 7-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin (12.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and 6-9 junior forward Cory Jefferson (12.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg).
The Bears like to play up-tempo. They are 21st in the nation in scoring, averaging 76 points per game. But they only shoot 68.6 percent from the foul line, ranking them 201st in Division I.
THE COUGARS: BYU was picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference in the preseason, but ended up a distant third -- six games behind Gonzaga, and four games behind St. Mary's. The Cougars lost five of their final eight regular season games, before defeating Washington, Mercer and Southern Miss (two home, one road) to earn a trip to New York.
Three players average in double figures, led by 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Tyler Haws (21.6 ppg). The other two are 6-9 senior forward Brandon Davies (17.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and 6-2 sophomore guard Matt Carlino (11.3 ppg, 4.7 apg).
The Cougars are averaging even more points than Baylor, scoring 77.3 per game, ranking them 10th in the country. And they're better at the foul line -- 72.8 percent, 62nd in the nation. But they are weaker defensively -- 244th in scoring defense (69.3 ppg) and 284th in blocked shots per game (2.4).
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