NCAA Tournament Predictions: Baylor vs. Yale

Yale earned the Ivy League's automatic NCAA bid for the first time in 54 years by clinching the regular season title against Columbia on Saturday.(AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)

It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

This guy (Rico Gathers) is going to be tough for Yale to handle inside. (AP Photo)
This guy (Rico Gathers) is going to be tough for Yale to handle inside. (AP Photo)

5. Baylor (22-11, 10-8/Big 12)– The Bears will be extra hungry entering this year’s NCAA Tournament after collapsing down the stretch and losing in stunning fashion to Georgia State on RJ Hunter’s buzzer-beater last season. This group has a lot of talent, with four players averaging in double figures, including leading scorer Taurean Prince (15.5 ppg), who has the ability to single-handedly take over games.

Baylor’s frontcourt is among the most talented in the nation. 6-8 senior forward Rico Gathers (11.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg) is a beast inside, as is 6-9 forward Jonathan Motley (11 ppg). This group is going to be tough for the Bulldogs’ frontcourt to handle, and they’re going to have to make shots against Baylor’s length.

KEY STATS:

17.8 assists per game (6th)

77.2 points per game (79th)

69.3 points allowed (113th)

Justin Sears was named Ivy League Player of the Year on Wednesday. (AP Photo)
Ivy League Player of the Year Justin Sears. (AP Photo)

12. Yale (22-6,13-1/Ivy League)–Party like it’s 1962. The Bulldogs are back in the Big Dance for the first time since John F. Kennedy was in the White House, leaving no doubt during a 13-1 crusade through the Ivy League.

This team is deep and balanced, with heady sophomore guard Makai Mason (15.8 ppg, 3.7 apg) leading the way. 6-8 senior forward Justin Sears (15.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.8 apg) is opportunistic and can stretch the floor with his jump shot. Rugged 6-6 forward Brandon Sherrod (12.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is as tough as they come underneath. Sherrod left the team last year to sing with the world-famous Whiffenpoofs (this is Yale we’re talking about), but now he’s better than ever, even setting an NCAA record for most consecutive made field goals, with 30 straight.

KEY STATS:

11.1 Rebound Margin (2nd)

PREDICTION: Yale is a nice NCAA Tournament story, but we think they drew a nightmare first-round matchup in Baylor. The Bears will be especially focused after losing their composure late and falling to Georgia State in the first round last year. Baylor is huge inside, has talented wings and can score with anyone in the country. Scott Drew’s group has made Elite Eight runs in 2010 and 2012. This could be another year for the Bears to make a deep run into March.

Other tournament games:

EAST:
Which teams can beat No. 1 North Carolina?
8. USC vs. 9. Providence
5. Indiana vs. 12. Chattanooga
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Stony Brook
6. Notre Dame vs. 11. Michigan/Tulsa
3. West Virginia vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin
7. Wisconsin vs. 10. Pittsburgh
2. Xavier vs. 15 Weber State

SOUTH:
Who can beat No. 1 Kansas?
8. Colorado vs. 9. UConn
5. Maryland vs. 12. South Dakota State
4. California vs. 13 Hawaii
6. Arizona vs. 11. Wichita State or Vanderbilt
3. Miami (FL) vs. 14. Buffalo
7. Iowa vs. 10. Temple
2. Villanova vs. 15. UNC Asheville

MIDWEST:
How far will No. 1 Virginia advance?
8. Texas Tech vs. 9. Butler
5. Purdue vs. 12. Arkansas-Little Rock
4. Iowa State vs. 13. Iona
6. Seton Hall vs. 11. Gonzaga
3. Utah vs. 14. Fresno State
7. Dayton vs. 10. Syracuse
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Middle Tennessee State

WEST:
Is No. 1 Oregon really that good?
8. St. Joseph’s vs. 9. Cincinnati
5. Baylor vs. 12. Yale
4. Duke vs. 13. UNC-Wilmington
6. Texas vs. 11. Northern Iowa
3. Texas A&M vs. 14. Green Bay
7. Oregon State vs. 10. VCU
2. Oklahoma vs 15. Cal St. Bakersfield

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