INDIANAPOLIS — The south region has cleared up for the Bears in Indianapolis if they get past Wisconsin tomorrow and former Baylor assistant coaches pulling the biggest upsets of the day Friday are a lot of the reason why.
“I thought we would win," Paul Mills, Oral Roberts head coach and former Baylor assistant coach from 2003-17, said. "Our guys thought they would win, so the reality is you’re about to turn around and play another one.”
As the Bears get set for a second-round date with Wisconsin inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse – they do it with a much clearer path to their first final four in 71 years.
“Nobody out there is any better or any different than you when it comes down to the work you put in,” Grant McCasland, North Texas head coach and former Baylor assistant coach from 2011-17, said.
McCasland and Mills have both been part of NCAA tournament runs with Scott Drew’s bears.
In fact, some of their former colleagues got to watch the Golden Eagles’ massive upset of No. 2 seed Ohio state during their own game.
“I think I was the only one not sneaking a peak," Baylor Bear's Basketball Head Coach Scott Drew said. "I’m taking all the guys are watching, our coaches are watching, what’s going on? Then they told me that Coach Tang was crying, he was so excited, so I think I was the only one on our time not watching.”
But Drew couldn’t because he was facing the other way – toward his team.
Saturday, ahead of his Baylor team’s second-round clash with Wisconsin, Drew shared his excited about his friends’ success Friday sharing stories about the pair.
For instance, Mills, who was a successful high school coach near Houston before heading to Waco when drew first got to Baylor, used to run the Bears’ team chapel services.
“He could be running a mega church. He is an unbelievable preacher, pastor, chapel-giver," Drew said. "I mean, he is really in to spiritual helping.”
Meanwhile, McCasland, fondly known by his players as Coach Mac, is the ultimate competitor even when the game is meant to simply blow off some steam.
“My brother and I, Grant and Coach (Mark) Few were playing pickle ball a couple days ago, socially distanced with masks on, but Mac’s diving on the ground and the carpet for loose balls. I mean, he’s just a scrapper, a fighter.”
Now they could run in to their former boss on the bracket, and this time Drew will make sure he’s facing the right direction.
“That’s what I get for looking the other way,” Drew said.
Not only is there a Baylor tie to North Texas – but one of Mac’s assistants – Matt Breaker – is a Belton grad. But for the family ties – No. 2 seed Iowa in the west eliminated Drew’s brother Bryce tonight.