INDIANAPOLIS — A contemporary powerhouse on the precipice of program historical past. A dormant-no-longer basketball-rich college that has woke up the echoes.
They shared a league for 76 years: the late, nice Southwest Convention. On Monday night time they’re going to share a courtroom inside Lucas Oil Stadium with a Closing 4 berth on the road. Baylor and Arkansas.
A Southwest throwback.
Arkansas moved on to the SEC in 1991; Baylor helped the Large 8 flip into the Large 12 5 years later, when its exodus led to the dissolving of the SWC. Now the groups will face off in Monday night time’s late tip for the South Regional Closing that quantities to a 25-year reunion. These previous faces are trying contemporary and are wanting to boast about what they have been as much as these days. Examine ’em out now.
Hearken to our Saturday Candy 16 Eye on School Basketball recap beneath.
For Baylor, the looks is true on time. The Bears have been top-five good two seasons operating. At Arkansas, Eric Musselman has the Razorbacks forward of the tempo however blissful to nonetheless be dancing after an adrenaline-pumping ending earlier within the day.
Saturday’s quartet of Candy 16 video games provided up some blowouts and a few drama. No. 3 Arkansas’ skin-of-their-teeth win over No. 15 Oral Roberts was the most effective of the 4. Musselman’s crew wanted to go deep into the second half — as in, till the ultimate possession — to beat the 2021 match’s Cinderella story. A Max Abmas last-second 3-point try for ORU simply barely moved left and clonked the rim, ending the dream 72-70.
We have been two inches away from having the primary No. 15 seed make a regional closing. As an alternative, Arkansas received its second straight recreation by two factors.
No. 1 Baylor moved on within the high half of the South regional semifinal regardless of making its fewest 3-pointers this season (three) at a season’s-worst 15.8% clip. No. 5 Villanova held a halftime lead, however the Bears strangled the Wildcats within the second half. Baylor’s 62-51 victory marked the fewest factors scored in a recreation by Villanova since November 2018. (Hinkle continues to a home of horrors for Jay Wright, who has one win in his previous six journeys there.)
The left facet of the bracket will whittle the sphere from 12 to an Elite Eight on Sunday. And whereas there are some doubtlessly superbly regional closing matchups doubtlessly available, no two groups might conflict as superbly as Baylor and Arkansas. The Hogs can guard and the Bears can rating. Baylor was as soon as a top-five protection earlier this season. That rating at KenPom has crawled again to twenty seventh following a post-COVID cratering.
Arkansas makes up for its 33.3% 3-point capturing and good-enough 51.2% 2-point capturing with a pedal-to-the-medal ethos. They might properly induce Baylor right into a race. Watch out what you would like for.
Bears coach Scott Drew has performed comparatively properly within the match through the years. That is his ninth journey; he holds a 14-8 document. However a Closing 4 has eluded one in every of faculty basketball’s extra effervescent personalities thus far. Yet one more win and this system and Drew’s fame change for the higher for good. Baylor was clearly adequate to have made a Closing 4 a season in the past, had the 2020 Dance not been detonated by the pandemic.
Musselman’s performed what Arkansas followers might have solely dreamed of 24 months in the past when he left Reno, Nevada, for Fayetteville, Arkansas: get the crew to a excessive seed and a regional closing in Yr Two. Pipe-dream stuff for many, however getting thus far proves the purpose Arkansas followers have been making for properly over a decade. We’re an awesome program with the correct coach. Musselman is the correct coach. Arkansas deserves to be right here.
This would be the 94th assembly since 1949 between Arkansas and Baylor, per School Sports activities Reference. There’s been solely two battles within the final 30 years (in 2008 and 2009).
We can’t neglect one other former SWCer: Houston is within the Elite Eight for the primary time since Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler based the game’s most well-known dunking fraternity in 1983. The No. 2 Cougars beat No. 11 Syracuse 62-46 within the Midwest Regional Semifinal, holding SU to a program-low in factors in an NCAA Match recreation.
In order that’s the place we’re at: It is 2021 and the SWC may have 37.5% of the Elite Eight groups. That form of season, that form of match. All need to be right here, all have been top-20 KenPom groups the the previous month-plus.
Drew has the Bears again within the Elite Eight for the third time in his tenure (2010, 2012). The previous two journeys noticed BU lose to the eventual nationwide champions. This time, they is likely to be the eventual nationwide champions.
For Arkansas, its first look since 1995. That is the primary extraordinary improvement in what may grow to be a long-term restoration of Razorback basketball. Drew is in his 18th season at Baylor and is able to push his program again to the Closing 4 for the primary time in 71 years. Musselman’s solely simply begun in Fayetteville. Their excessive power, rah-rah spirit has performed a serious half in creating nationwide title contenders.
Monday night time will give us a rivalry renewed and fairly doable the most effective of the 4 regional finals.