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Northwestern vs. Baylor Basketball Preview

Northwestern has lost two straight games and heads to Waco to play a Baylor team that absolutely shellacked them early last season.

Jamie Squire

Are they good? I'll summarize with "yes", then expound. Baylor doesn't have their stars from last year - Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller, and Quincy Acy, if you don't remember them murdering Northwestern or making the Elite Eight - but they've still got the talent to ensure that they'll probably be ranked in the Top 25 for good chunks of this year, even if they're not now. They're coming off a win at Kentucky, which should tell you most of what you need to know. They have, however, been a bit Jekyll-and-Hydish, dropping games to Colorado and the College of Charleston.

What are they good at?: Baylor's the first Northwestern opponent I've been able to watch multiple times in the run-up to them playing NU, so I can actually provide a modestly detailed scouting report. They play really fast, which explains a lot of the team's gaudy numbers. Pierre Jackson runs the show, and when I say he runs it, I mean he really, really runs it, as a very high amount of the team's looks are either Jackson himself or assists from Jackson. He's a speedy monster off the dribble, and can finish as well as he can distribute while being capable of nailing open looks. But what really scares me about Baylor is their inside play on both sides of the ball: I haven't yet seen anybody capable of stopping Cory Jefferson down low, and Isaiah Austin is the 7-foot-1 guy with range who is built to ruin Northwestern. Both guys are lean, athletic rebounders capable of killing NU in the paint. That, and perfect rotations on the bottom of the 2-3 zone combined with awful shooting for Kentucky is what allowed them to pull off the upset in Rupp this past week.

What are they bad at? I wasn't able to see either of the team's two losses, but the story seems to be that while Jackson is a great point guard, the team needs him to operate at a high rate to be successful. That's good when he's playing as well as he can, but that's bad he's playing badly. The team still turns to him, the shots keep going up, and the offense stagnates. In their two losses, he's gone 8-for-21 and 3-for-11 from the field. Bottling him up isn't an easy proposition, but if you hit him with a zone and force anybody else to make plays, I think their offense will struggle.

What's Baylor's color? Blue.

Okay, I get that blue is their color. But what's their other color? Blue.

What if I asked them to recommend another?: I don't think they would.

Does Baylor have any players with generational titles this year?: After the success of Perry Jones III and of course, Robert Griffin III, you'd think so. Sadly, they don't. Expect Northwestern walk-on James Montgomery III to capitalize by scoring 90 to 95 points.

So you said Northwestern played Baylor last year?: Yeah. Here's a highlight reel:

On the serious, Baylor won by 28 and was up by more than 30 for chunks of the game. Northwestern was dominated inside and John Shurna missed all seven of his threes in one of his worst career performances. In fairness, that was an amazing Baylor team: they started out 17-0 and played deep into March, eventually losing to Kentucky (who were good at basketball as well.)

Is Brady Heslip still college basketball's most Slytherin player? This is his Google Images page, his name is "Brady Heslip", and he's really good at shooting threes. I think so. (For what it's worth, I only read four of the Harry Potter books, but there's really no better way of describing him.)

Should NU win? No. Tough team, on the road, and they've played poorly in their last two outings. I don't expect a win by any means.

Can they win?: Sure. It wouldn't be the first time Baylor has dropped a game to a lesser team. Like I said, I think you zone them up, although the problem there is that you might lose Brady Heslip the way NU lost Logan Aronhalt against Maryland. I expect this game to look similar to that Maryland game, as Baylor also will dominate the paint, but the scoreline could be different if Northwestern makes shots. Baylor hasn't been superb at defending the three, so if the shots fall - as they completely did not against Maryland or UIC - you always have a chance.'