Baylor Bears

Baylor vs. Alabama NCAA Women’s Basketball Preview, Prediction

Baylor guard Sarah Andrews.

Here is everything you need to know about Baylor and Alabama in our Bears vs. Crimson Tide NCAA Tournament women’s basketball preview.

NCAA Tournament

Seattle Region 3 – First Round

No. 7 Baylor (19-12) vs. No. 10 Alabama (20-10), Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT

Game Info: 4:30 p.m. CT, Saturday, ESPN2

How They Got Here:

Baylor and Alabama were both selected as at-large berths to the NCAA Tournament.

Winner gets: A second-round game against the winner of the game between No. 2 UConn and No. 15 Vermont.

 

Projected starting lineups

Baylor: G Sarah Andrews, G Ja’Mee Asberry, G Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, G Jaden Owens, F Caitlin Bickle.

Alabama: G/F Aaliyah Nye, G Brittany Davis, G Sarah Ashlee Barker, C Jada Rice, G Hannah Barber.

Player to watch

Baylor

G Sarah Andrews: She’s grown into Baylor’s leading scorer this season, averaging 15 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. She’s improved her averages for scoring and rebounding in each of her first three seasons in college basketball, and she has at least four assists per game for the second straight season. Andrews was on the All-Big 12 First Team as named by both the coaches and Heartland College Sports and she’s a prime candidate to be next year’s preseason player of the year. For now, she’s hoping to lead the Bears as far into the NCAA Tournament as possible.

 

Alabama

G Brittany Davis: Davis earned All-SEC First-Team honors after the end of the regular season. That was to be expected. Last season Davis became the first Alabama player in three decades to score at least 600 points in a season and averaged 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Davis has maintained those averages nicely in 2022-23, as she averaged 17.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. She shot 45 percent from the floor and 34 percent from the 3-point line. She’s also the defender to keep track of, as Davis led the Tide with 51 steals.

Key storylines

Baylor

This is the 18th straight season (excluding 2019-20 due to COVID-19) that Baylor has made the NCAA Tournament. But this season is much different, as the Bears did not win the Big 12 regular-season title for the first time since 2010. Baylor was supposed to be loaded, but they lost two key transfers along the way. Aijha Blackwell suffered an injury and was never able to get back on the court consistently. Meanwhile, Dre’una Edwards had issues with her transfer waiver and never hit the floor. It robbed Baylor of 32 points and 22 rebounds from last year. But it opened up playing time for Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and Bella Fontleroy. Baylor has lost six of its last nine going into the NCAA Tournament.

 

Alabama

Alabama is led by a coach familiar with the Big 12 and Baylor. Kristy Curry was the head coach at Texas Tech for seven seasons before she ended up leading the Crimson Tide. This is Alabama’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament, when it reached the second round. Alabama reached the Final Four in 1994 and last reached the tournament’s second weekend in 1998. Alabama had an uneven stretch to end the season. The Crimson Tide won four straight games and then lost their final three regular-season games, along with their first-round SEC Tournament game, going into the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction

Baylor 68, Alabama 67. Neither of these teams has a lot of momentum going into the NCAA Tournament. They both know a meeting with UConn awaits. I’ll take the program with more NCAA credentials, and that means the Bears move on.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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