Baylor vs. Creighton NCAA Tournament Preview and Prediction
Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the Creighton Bluejays in our NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview and prediction.
South Region – Second Round
No. 3 Baylor (23-10) vs. No. 6 Creighton (22-12)
Game Info: Sunday, March 19; 6:10 PM CT, TBS
How They Got Here: Baylor dispatched 14th-seeded UC Santa Barbara, 74-56, to advance. Meanwhile, Creighton took down upset-minded N.C. State, 72-63, to get to the second round.
Winner gets: A trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
Baylor: G LJ Cryer, G Adam Flagler, G Keyonte George, F Flo Thamba, F Jalen Bridges
Creighton: G Trey Alexander, G Ryan Nembhard, G Baylor Scheierman, F Arthur Kaluma, C Ryan Kalkbrenner
PLAYER TO WATCH
G Adam Flagler: Out of the best guard trio in the country, Flagler is the engine that gets this thing moving and the one that gets the Bears going. He’s tied with his mate George for the team-lead at 15.6 points per game. Flagler is hitting upwards of 42% from 3-point range and is distributing nearly five assists per game. Once he gets in motion, the Bears get in motion.
C Ryan Kalkbrenner: For a team that is largely about its 3-point shooting–more on that in a minute–the big man is a key cog. Kalkbrenner is an All-Big East team tab while averaging 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest, and shooting nearly 72%. Yes, you read that right. Kalkbrenner is dominating in the paint to a 71.7% shooting clip. He’s an enormous presence inside.
There’s no question about the ceiling for this Bears team. But the question regarding that ceiling is can they get through championship contenders. While Creighton is a No. 6 seed, it ranks 13th in KenPom, actually above Baylor’s No. 14 ranking, and is a true contender for a deep run. That begs a problem for Baylor, who doesn’t have a bad loss, but has failed this season against some of its toughest tasks in the Big 12, the best league in the country. Can it reverse that trend and continue on?
The Blue Jays are a conference-leading 35.5% shooting team from beyond the arc, which makes it a true, legitimate Final Four contender if they can stay to their true, characteristic form throughout. And they’ll certainly have to do so in order to advance in this one. That means the hot-shooting Alexander needs to step up and knock them down like his 42.8% self. Creighton has hit nearly 300 treys on the season, and it could once again be the great equalizer.
BAYLOR 72, CREIGHTON 70
This is an incredible matchup, and both of these teams could make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. At the end of the day, though, I just like Baylor’s guards a little bit more to help them advance. Again, this is the best guard trio in the country and a set that could truly challenge Alabama, if it comes to that later down the line.