Baylor Eyeing Deep NCAA Tournament Run After Back-To-Back First-Round Exits

    Baylor has been the victim of first-round upsets in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, but guard Ishmail Wainright believes the Bears have a deep run in them this year.

    February 15, 2017

    Baylor has been the victim of first-round upsets in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, but guard Ishmail Wainright believes the Bears have a deep run in them this year.


    NCAA Tournament upsets are what turn March into madness. David beats Goliath, fans either rejoice or sulk and brackets bust or boom.

    What’s often forgotten, though, is how the players are forced to handle a stunning defeat when the outside world predicted an easy victory. And Baylor senior guard Ishmail Wainright knows the feeling too well.

    Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright. Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bears entered the 2015 Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the West Region and a legitimate Final Four contender. That didn’t matter to No. 14 seed Georgia State, which used a 3-pointer from R.J. Hunter in the final seconds to pull off a 57-56 first-round upset.

    Baylor bounced back the following year to go 22-11 and earn the No. 5 seed in the West Region and a date with 12th-seeded Ivy League champion Yale. But the Bears couldn’t stop Bulldogs guard Makai Mason from scoring 31 points, leading to another first-round exit.

    Yale also out-rebounded Baylor 36-32, giving us one of the best exchanges between a player and reporter in recent memory.

    It’s only natural for fans to wonder if the Bears will put a slipper on another Cinderella come March. Baylor enters Saturday’s Big 12 showdown with visiting Kansas coming off a loss at Texas Tech that dropped them to 22-4 overall and 9-4 in conference play.

    Wainwright played on each of the last two teams that made an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, and he — along with his teammates who also experienced that pain — doesn’t expect it to happen again.

    “We have a lot of guys that came back from those (losses),” Wainright told Campus Insiders. “Johnathan Motely, we have Al Freeman, Jake Lindsey, King McClure, myself. Guys understand what’s at stake. We don’t want that (loss) in the first round. We push ourselves to the point that we don’t want that to happen again.”

    Baylor has five games remaining in the regular season before the Big 12 tournament. It’ll be honing its game prior to Selection Sunday and that first NCAA Tournament game, which the Bears hope won’t be a difficult obstacle to cross this year.

    MORE: Florida Center John Egbunu Out For Season With Torn ACL

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