Round 1: #5 Baylor vs #12 Yale
Location: Providence, RI
Season record: 22-6 (13-1 in Ivy) 1st in Ivy, Ivy league champions
Why they can upset?
This is Yale’s first time in the NCAA tournament since 1962. The Ivy League has had success in the tournament in recent years. Harvard advanced to the round of 32 in 2013 and 2014. They nearly upset UNC last season. The biggest reason Yale can make some noise is location. Yale is located in New Haven, CT, 102 miles from Providence, RI. This is basically a home game. Baylor is in Texas and won’t accumulate as large of a fan base. Baylor was also upset by Georgia State last season.
Makai Mason leads Yale in both points and assists per game. He is a point guard that looks like he is in high school. Don’t let his looks deceive you, he has a nose for the basket. He does a good job drawing multiple defenders. Once he finds an opening, he guns the ball to his teammates creating scoring chances for others. Mason will facilitate if the Bulldogs advance to the round of 32.
Justin Sears has been named the Ivy League Player of the Year two seasons in a row. He is the first player since 1967 to make first team All-Ivy three seasons in a row. Sears is tied with Makai Mason in points per game. He leads Yale in blocks and rebounds per game. His skill set is versatile. His basketball IQ puts him in the right position at the right time. The Justin Sears vs. Taurean Prince matchup is going to be exciting.
Consider these three a big-3. Joining Sears in the first team All-Ivy is Brandon Sherrod and Makai Mason. Sherrod’s role is down in the paint. His game is all about consistency. He broke the NCAA record for most field goals made in a row. The record was at 26, and now it’s at 30. With this consistency, he knows when and when not to shoot. He needs to find ways to score against Rico Gathers.
What about Baylor?
Baylor is a great team, but beatable. They have struggled against tournament teams. In 18 games against 11 tournament opponents, their record is 7-11. Their only advantage over Yale is strength in schedule. Yale played SMU and Duke back-to-back, losing both games. Baylor had to deal with the Big 12, the best conference in the NCAA. Baylor’s 2-4 record to end the season scares me.
#12 Yale 76-#5 Baylor 70