• After Sweet 16 run, Baylor men’s basketball opens 2017-18 in top 25

    Baylor men's basketball ranked 24th nationally

    Last year, the Baylor men’s basketball team began the season unranked and eventually became the No. 1 team in the nation before reaching the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in eight years.

    This year, the Bears have earned a little more respect. Head coach Scott Drew’s squad will begin the season ranked 24th in the nation in both the AP and Coaches Poll; that marks the sixth time in program history — all in the last seven years — that the Bears have started the year with a top-25 ranking. Building on a program-best fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Bears will look to follow last year’s Sweet 16 with another deep postseason run this year.

    The 2017-18 team will feature a number of key returnees, led by last year’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, senior guard Manu Lecomte. He’ll be joined by two other returning starters in senior center Jo Lual-Acuil, a member of last year’s Big 12 All-Defensive team, and junior guard King McClure. Jake Lindsey (guard) and Terry Maston (forward) will also be counted on after playing important roles mostly off the bench last year. Newcomers include redshirt freshmen Mark Vital (forward) and Tyson Jolly (guard), two top-100 recruits a year ago who redshirted last season, along with freshman forward Tristan Clark, one of Texas’ top 10 prospects last winter.

    Much like last year, the Bears will prep for Big 12 play with a challenging schedule featuring five non-conference opponents who are either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason top 25 poll. The Bears will open the season with Central Arkansas Friday at noon to kick off a three-game homestand, followed by four-straight games against traditionally strong teams. That stretch begins at Kansas City’s Hall of Fame Classic with games against Wisconsin (receiving votes) and either No. 18 UCLA or Creighton (receiving votes), followed by a road game at No. 17 Xavier and a home game against No. 8 Wichita State. In conference, the Bears will play two games each against No. 3 Kansas and No. 10 West Virginia, along with a January road trip to No. 7 Florida for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

    Sic ’em, Bears!

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