Baylor men named a 1 seed, women a 2; both will open March Madness in Texas
Both the Baylor men’s and women’s basketball teams earned top seeds in this year’s NCAA tournament — and as a result, they both get to open March Madness right here in Texas.
In fact, this marks the second year in a row that both teams have earned top-2 seeds — a feat only accomplished by four schools in NCAA history: UConn, Duke, North Carolina, and now Baylor.
Winning the Big 12 Conference regular season title carried the Baylor men to their second-straight No. 1 seed (this time, coming in at No. 4 overall). Big 12 Coach of the Year Scott Drew’s Bears will begin this year’s NCAA tournament against Mid-East Athletic Conference champs Norfolk State on Thursday in Fort Worth (1 p.m., TBS). The winner of that game will face the winner of North Carolina and Marquette on Saturday in Fort Worth (time/channel TBA).
The Norfolk State Spartans have won 15 of their last 17 games, led by MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant Jr. (16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.1 apg) and MEAC Coach of the Year Robert Jones. The Bears’ injury woes have been well-documented, but they are still the defending national champs, ranked No. 5 in the latest coaches poll, and led by newly-named all-American James Akinjo (13.4 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.8 rpg).
The Baylor women also won the Big 12 regular season championship — the program’s 12th straight — and reached the Big 12 tournament finals for the 11th straight season. That success earned the Bears a top-2 seed for the 11th straight year, as head coach Nicki Collen’s team will open the NCAA tournament on Friday in Waco hosting Big West Conference champs Hawai’i (3 p.m., ESPN2). Either the Bears or Rainbow Wahine will then face the winner of Ole Miss/South Dakota on Sunday in the Ferrell Center.
The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine have won 13 out of their last 14 games, led by Big West Player of the Year Amy Atwell (17. 4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Big West Coach of the Year Laura Beeman. Collen’s Bears, of course, are led by first-team All-American NaLyssa Smith (22.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg) and Collen, who in her first year at Baylor has her team ranked No. 4 in the latest AP poll.
Sic ’em, Bears!