Today, Xavier takes on their toughest test of the schedule so far in top 10 Baylor. The last time these two teams met was in a heartbreaking NCAA tournament game in 2012. Can Xavier pull off the big win in Waco? Before the game, we talked to Kendall Kaut over at www.ourdailybears.com, the SB Nation site covering Baylor to talk about the game. Let’s see what he had so say.
1.) 7-0 and getting more and more attention from the media! How is the mood in Baylor basketball land?
Baylor basketball is viewed very favorably by the fans. The team is 7-0, as you mentioned, but most importantly, the guys on the team are easy to root for. The team has huge wins, and after what's happened with football, it's sure nice to have basketball season.
2.) Your defense is incredible. You are averaging 58 points per game against you and you have kept a few teams down in the 40s. Our scoring is lead by our guards, so how will this matchup on Saturday?
I would expect Baylor to open in our 1-3-1 zone. Xavier is 238th in three point percentage on KenPom, so I will expect us to allow you all to shoot a few more threes early. That said, our zone has been a way for some teams to find their shot, and Trevon Blueitt might get it going against us. We'll play man some too, and that's fueled our runs against Michigan State and Louisville. So, I would expect us to open in zone. If Xavier starts hitting shots, we'll switch to man where our guards pressure the ball up top a lot.
3.) Baylor is shooting up the rankings and for good reason. If you had a vote in the top 25, where would you put Baylor and why?
I would rank Baylor #5. I would go Duke (still ranking based on the three freshmen, and I believe they're the best team with them), Kentucky, Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, and then Xavier. The Bears easily have the most impressive resume right now, and they're #10 on KenPom. The teams I'd have above Baylor are all either undefeated, Duke without their freshmen, or in KU's case, caught Indiana on a crazy shooting night.
4.) I've never been to Waco before, so if I were to make a trip, what food places are a must?
Waco sometimes gets a bad wrap from the outside world, but I really enjoyed living there. We have excellent B.B.Q. at Vitek's- where the Gupatk was named the best college option in the country not so long ago. There's also George's where they have crazy wings where they take chicken wings and wrap bacon around them and throw a jalapeno in the middle. Waco also has a number of good Mexican options, including Ninfa's, a number of smaller taqueria's, and a host of excellent fried chicken spots. Beyond that, Waco has nearly every fast food spot you could want except Shake Shack.
5.) Score prediction for this game?
I think Baylor wins 65-61. These teams match-up very evenly. If it were at Xavier, I'd pick the Wildcats. But with a home game, and some players on our bench figuring it out, including Ken McClure, I think we hold on late. I would certainly not be surprised if Xavier won, given you all have an excellent team and could win a national championship.
There you have it. Kendall and I both agree that this is going to be a great game. Get to your tv set (or streamable device) at 3:30 eastern for the top 10 clash.