No. 12 Yale to play No. 5 Baylor in NCAA first round

No. 12 Yale (22-6, 13-1 Ivy) will play No. 5 Baylor (22-11, 10-8 Big 12) Thursday at 2:45 p.m. in the West Region in Providence in the Bulldogs’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962. The game will be televised on CBS.

The site of the game is most favorable to Yale, which has only a 100-mile distance to Providence, where the Elis trounced Brown in January, 90-66.

If Yale were to upset Baylor, it would likely face No. 4 Duke in the second round four months after the Blue Devils defeated Yale at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 80-61, even after the Bulldogs grabbed an early 9-0 lead and impressed Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski enough for him to say that Justin Sears would start for his team.

Even though the NCAA Selection Committee doesn’t care about KenPom standings, Yale’s KenPom ranking is 38, while Baylor’s is 24. In what geographically should be a home game for the Bulldogs, Yale fans have to feel good about their odds.

Baylor is led by senior forward Taurean Prince (15.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Al Freeman (11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds) and senior forward Rico Gathers (11.4 points, 9.1 rebounds). The Bears play at a slightly faster pace than Yale, but this matchup features strength vs. strength with regard to offensive rebounding. Yale ranks seventh in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, but Baylor ranks third in the same category, while the Bears also rank 13th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Last year, Ivy League representative Harvard lost in a close matchup to North Carolina, 60-57, in Jacksonville, also in the West Region.

Yale is looking to avoid the Ivy League’s gut-wrenching fate in first-round NCAA games in Providence, as Princeton lost one-point games in 1976 to Rutgers (54-53) and in 1989 to Georgetown (50-49).

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