INDIANAPOLIS — Two teams were supposed to play in the opening days of the tournament but now, one will send the other home. No. 1-seed Baylor will face No. 5-seed Villanova in the South Region Sweet 16.
In the game, the Bears will have to contain dangerous 6' 9" Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who's averaged 22.0 points and almost five assists per game in the Wildcats' past three.
"We saw him a year ago and he was a great player then," Baylor Coach Scott Drew said of the sophomore. "He's improved now and he's even better. There's a reason he's going to be in the NBA at some point when he chooses to go there. Guys with his size, athleticism and skillset don't come around often."
As a freshman in the Myrtle Beach Invitational championship game in November 2019, Robinson-Earl started and scored 12 points with 11 rebounds against the Bears.
This time out though, Baylor has its own weapon. One could argue it's the dynamic play of guard trio Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell.
Former Baylor star Ekpe Udoh, who helped guide the Bears to the 2010 Elite Eight, said it's actually Mark Vital and Johnathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.
"Mark Vital, what is he, the winningest player in Baylor history?" Udoh said. "That's special. He gets it done on both ends and [Tchatchoua] with the high energy off the bench, I think they've put together a really solid team."
No matter who it is who steps up for the Bears on Saturday, they will have to play their best game of the season.
"You have to beat them, they're not going to beat themselves," Drew said. "Obviously, they're a very scrappy, tough team. On loose balls, you'll always see two or three people diving on the ground after them."
Tip-off inside Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis between the Bears and Wildcats is set for 4:15 p.m. central time Saturday.
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