Baylor Bears

Baylor vs. South Dakota NCAA Women’s Basketball Preview and Prediction

NCAA Womens Basketball: Texas Tech at Baylor

Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the South Dakota Coyotes in our Baylor vs. South Dakota NCAA Tournament women’s basketball preview.

NCAA Tournament

Wichita Region – Second Round

No. 2 Baylor (28-6) vs. No. 10 South Dakota (28-5) Sunday, Time and TV TBA, Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas

How They Got Here: Baylor was an at-large selection from the Big 12. South Dakota won the Summit League’s automatic bid.

NCAA Results: Baylor: def. Hawaii, 89-49 (first round); South Dakota: def. Ole Miss, 75-61 (first round).

Winner Gets: A trip to the Sweet 16 in Wichita next week.

Projected starting lineups

Baylor: F NaLyssa Smith, G Ja’Mee Asberry, G Jordan Lewis, G Sarah Andrews, C Queen Egbo.

South Dakota: G Liv Korngable, G Chloe Lamb, G Kyah Watson, C Hannah Sjerven, G Maddie Krull.

 

Players to watch

Baylor G Jordan Lewis: The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, who transferred in from Alabama, is the most experienced starter in women’s college basketball. Her 159 starts entering the NCAA Tournament is an NCAA record. She’s integrated herself into Baylor’s lineup nicely by blending facilitation of head coach Nicki Collen’s pro-based offense and calling her own shot, which helped put her on the Dawn Staley Award late-season watch list. Entering the NCAA’s she was No. 14 among active NCAA players in career scoring and No. 3 in career assists. She built on that against Hawaii in the first round with 23 points and five assists. Like her perimeter teammates, Ja’Mee Asberry and Sarah Andrews, she can hit the three, too. Like Baylor legends Brittany Griner and Odyssey Sims, she has a triple-double as a Bear. She became the third player to do it earlier this season. Entering the tournament she averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.

South Dakota G Chloe Lamb: She’s the player you want to guard, and she put up 20 points in the Coyotes’ first-round win. She is the third South Dakota player, male or female, to claim the Summit League Player of the Year honor. She’s scored in double figures 30 of 33 games this season and entered the tournament No. 30 among active NCAA players in career scoring with more than 1,800 points. In the Summit League Tournament semifinals she scored a career-high 33 points and was named the Summit League Tournament MVP. She was also named to the All-Summit League Defensive team and is a candidate for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award.

 

Key storylines

Baylor: Hosting NCAA Tournament games and getting to the second weekend of the tournament is what the Bears do. Of course, the Bears are hosting for the first time since 2019 thanks to COVID-19 (the 2020 tournament was canceled and the 2021 tournament was in the San Antonio bubble). It’s new to head coach Nicki Collen, who is in her first season at Baylor after a stint as the head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. But she’s brought a new mentality to the program, one that has elevated the game of players like forward NaLyssa Smith, guard Jordan Lewis (who transferred from Alabama) and center Queen Egbo. If the Bears win on Sunday, they will be heading to the Sweet 16 for the 13th straight tournament. Against Hawaii, it was Lewis and Egbo that led the way, but as the tournament goes on, it will be Smith that drives the Bears’ potential run to the Final Four.

South Dakota: Friday’s win over Ole Miss was a milestone for the Coyotes. It was their first NCAA Tournament win in their history. The Coyotes have had plenty of practice in the 10 years since they joined Division I. This is South Dakota’s fifth trip, and fourth straight trip, to the NCAA Tournament. Its Summit League Tournament title was South Dakota’s third straight. Their lineup is filled with Summit League award winners too. Along with the aforementioned Lamb, there’s Summit Defensive Player of the Year Hannah Sjerven, Summit Sixth Woman of the Year winner Grace Larkins and all-Summit selection Liv Korngable. Lamb, Sjerven and Korngable scored two-thirds of the Coyotes’ points entering the NCAA Tournament. So guess who led the way on Friday? Sjerven with 20, Lamb with 20 and Korngable with 10. Freshman Maddie Krull added 13 points.

 

Fun Fact

The last time the Bears failed to get to at least the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament was 2008.

Prediction

Baylor 81, South Dakota 71. There will be a lot of offense on the floor in this one, but Baylor should prevail.  

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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