For the fifth time since 2008, Baylor men’s basketball is headed to the postseason.
The Bears are a No. 2 seed in the NIT and will host Big West Conference regular season champ Long Beach State in first-round action Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets are on sale now; season ticket holders can reserve their same seats between now and Monday at 2 p.m., and like in the regular season, students get in for free. If you can’t make it to Waco, you can watch on ESPN2.
The bracket is lined up such that, if the higher seeds win as expected, the Bears would have a rematch with Kentucky in the quarterfinals; Baylor beat UK in December in Lexington to end the Wildcats’ 54-game home winning streak.
Head coach Scott Drew’s squad made a valiant late-season push for the NCAA tournament, pounding No. 3-ranked Kansas and playing both No. 13 Kansas State and No. 14 Oklahoma State close. (Both BaylorBears.com and ESPN.com made outstanding arguments why Baylor deserved strong consideration.) But in the end, gut-wrenching losses to those two squads (with 1 second to go vs. KSU and 2 seconds left vs. OSU) kept the Bears from making the NCAA’s field of 68.
Instead, Baylor is headed to the NIT for the first time since 2009, when Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Curtis Jerrells, Josh Lomers and Kevin Rogers (with Quincy Acy, Henry Dugat, Mamadou Diene and Anthony Jones coming off the bench) led the No. 3 seed Bears to the NIT Championship Game at Madison Square Garden.
The postseason bid continues the program’s longest period of sustained success. Before Drew’s arrival in Waco, the Bears had reached the postseason just seven times in 101 years (4 NCAA bids, 3 NIT). In the past six years, Baylor has now advanced to postseason play five times (3 NCAA, 2 NIT).
Next up: the No. 1-ranked Baylor Lady Bears, who will learn the path they must take to a second straight national title Monday night. The NCAA women’s basketball selection show airs at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN; join the team for a watch party in the Ferrell Center’s Stone Room.
Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!