With just 12 weeks before the 2015-2016 NCAA basketball season begins, we will look at one team per week from the state of Texas to break down their schedules and predict their success for the upcoming year.
The teams we will talk about (in alphabetical order) are: Baylor Bears, Houston Cougars, Lamar Cardinals, North Texas Mean Green, Rice Owls, SMU Mustangs, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas State Bobcats, and UTEP Miners.
Week one: Baylor Bears
by Zach DiSchiano
The departure of senior point guard Kenny Chery will hurt, but not as much as the average spectator would think. The Bears got two solid young guards in King McClure and Wendell Mitchell in this year’s recruiting class, and forward Taurean Prince is poised for a breakout season after averaging a team-leading 13.8 points per game last year.
KEY DEPARTURES: Kenny Chery, Royce O’Neale
SCHEDULE: The Bears have a pretty average non-conference schedule. There are four teams on here that have a good chance at beating Baylor, and only a couple more who stand a fighting chance at all. The key non-conference matchups are at Oregon for the second game of the season, hosting Vanderbilt in early December, and of course at Texas A&M in what should turn out to be a fantastic game in College Station. Another tough battle waits for Baylor at a break in the middle of the conference schedule, where the Bears take on a Georgia Bulldogs team that has been on the rise and gaining steam.
|11/13/15||vs. Stephen F. Austin||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/16/15||at Oregon||Eugene, Ore.||10:30 p.m. CT|
|11/20/15||vs. Jackson State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/23/15||vs. Savannah State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/27/15||vs. Arkansas State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/02/15||vs. Prairie View A&M||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/06/15||vs. Vanderbilt||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/08/15||vs. Northwestern State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/19/15||at Texas A&M||College Station, Texas||TBA|
|12/23/15||vs. New Mexico State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/29/15||vs. Texas Southern||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|01/02/16||at Kansas *||Lawrence, Kan.||3:00 p.m. CT|
|01/05/16||vs. Oklahoma State *||Waco, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|01/09/16||at Iowa State *||Ames, Iowa||2:00 p.m. CT|
|01/13/16||vs. TCU *||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|01/16/16||at Texas Tech *||Lubbock, Texas||TBA|
|01/20/16||vs. Kansas State *||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|01/23/16||vs. Oklahoma *||Waco, Texas||11:00 a.m. CT|
|01/27/16||at Oklahoma State *||Stillwater, Okla.||8:00 p.m. CT|
|01/30/16||vs. Georgia||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|02/01/16||vs. Texas *||Waco, Texas||8:00 p.m. CT|
|02/06/16||at West Virginia *||Morgantown, W.Va.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/10/16||at Kansas State *||Manhattan, Kan.||TBA|
|02/13/16||vs. Texas Tech *||Waco, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/16/16||vs. Iowa State *||Waco, Texas||8:00 p.m. CT|
|02/20/16||at Texas *||Austin, Texas||1:00 p.m. CT|
|02/23/16||vs. Kansas *||Waco, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/27/16||at TCU *||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|03/01/16||at Oklahoma *||Norman, Okla.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|03/05/16||vs. West Virginia *||Waco, Texas|
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Taurean Prince plays up to his potential and joins the conversation for Big 12 Player of the Year, Rico Gathers continues dominating the paint with his scoring and rebounding, King McClure explodes onto the scene and picks up where Chery left off, and the 7’0 JuCo transfer swats a few shots a game into the third row. The Bears exceed expectations and win basketball’s best conference’s championship, and go on a deep run into the NCAA tournament.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Bears don’t find an answer at the point guard spot and lack organization on the offensive end. The newcomers develop slowly, and Baylor takes a step back after last year’s slightly above average 24-10 season, which ended with a disappointing one-point, first-round loss to No. 14 Georgia State.
PREDICTION: The talent level here, especially with the new recruits on the team, is enough to make the tournament without a problem. Add in the excellent coaching and development skills of Scott Drew, and this team is more likely to lean toward the best-case scenario than anything else. The problem is that the Bears play in the deepest conference in college basketball, and it is tough to separate from the middle of the pack. And, while the Bears expect to be about as good, maybe a little better than last season, the rest of the Big 12 is improving, too. Schools that finished below Baylor last year (Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech) are well-coached and have brought in some worthy recruiting classes. With that, said, I still think Baylor will be among the conference’s top teams. They probably won’t beat out Kansas for the regular season championship, but as this team grows, they could be a threat to win the conference tournament by the end of the year. The Bears finish the regular season 21-9 overall, with a 11-7 conference record.
Check back with us next week as we take an in-depth look at the Houston Cougars.