Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/19/14
Here’s a quick scouting report of the likely starters for each team along with other tidbits of information on Baylor and Nebraska. Guard Kenny Cherry vs Tai Webster/Benny Parker Nebraska’s Tai Webster has started a large majority of Nebraska’s games this season, but may see more time on the bench once the tournament begins. After playing upwards of 25 minutes per game for the entire first half of the season, his minutes have been reduced and he’s shot just 4-27 in the last 14 games. His points per game and fouls per game equal out at 1.7 during that span. Tim Miles said he was sticking with Webster back in December, but has turned to Benny Parker and Ray Gallegos recently. Paker, dubbed the ‘Energizer Benny,’ is one of team’s best defensive players, but is coming off an ankle injury in the Big 10 tournament. Kenny Cherry is one of the main reasons that Baylor’s season turned around like it did. He knows when to pick his spots, which are usually extended from the free throw line, when to dish it down low to the posts and when to find Brady Heslip for the inevitable three. He’s also a guarantee at the free throw line during crunch time. There’s no doubt of who the starter is for Baylor at point guard, unlike Nebraska. Edge Baylor. Chery makes plays on both ends of the court and can take over a game if needed. Guard Brady Heslip v Shavon Shields Shavon Shields has filled a necessary role for the Huskers. Earlier this year, Nebraska’s third leading scorer, Deverell Biggs, was dismissed after playing just 15 games. That put more pressure on Shields and Terran Petteway to score. Petteway led the team with 18.1 points per game this season. Having that second guy who can score when called upon is crucial for any team. Shield has scored double-digit points in seven of his last 10 games, including a 33-point outburst against Illinois. He’s also got some size at 6-foot-7 and can rebound extremely well. He led the team in rebounds 10 times this season. While Heslip may not be as big (6-foot-2), he can shoot the lights out. He’s fourth in the NCAA in three point percentage making 47 percent on the year. His ability to change games with his range outweigh the trouble he has guarding on defense. If Baylor sticks with its zone defense in the tournament, he could have trouble closing out on guards Shields’ size on the three point line. Edge Tie. Shields has the size and can rebound while Heslip has the accuracy from beyond the arc. Forward Royce O’Neale v Terran Petteway Terran Petteway can flat out score. He scored at least 10 points in 25 of 27 games, at least 15 points in 21 games, 20 points in 12 games, and he topped 25 points in six games. There’s a reason that he was the only Husker to be on the All Big 10 team this season. Baylor’s do-it-all guy is forward Royce O’Neale. He rebounds extremely well for a forward, can run the point if called upon and he can shoot the three ball efficiently. He won’t have any outstanding stats, but he’ll be very solid in multiple categories. Edge Nebraska. Petteway can score inside, from beyond the arc and from the free throw line. We’ll have to see how he responds to Baylor’s zone. Forward Cory Jefferson v David Rivers Since Nebraska likes to play four guards at a time every so often, this starting spot could be up for grabs. It could go to Gallegos, Webster or junior forward David Rivers, who has 13 starts on the season. If chose, Rivers would be the lone upperclassmen of the starting five. Much like O’Neale for the Bears, he doesn’t have the gaudy stats. But he’s a grinder on the court that does the little things like attacking rebounds. He could get the nod to compete with Baylor’s size in the front court. Jefferson is a physical forward who can attack the rim or hit the mid-range jump shot. He’s also a beast on the boards. When he plays well, Baylor usually wins. He’s a double-double threat every game and he’s always got a chance to make SportsCenter’s top play with a putback dunk or alley-oop. His size and strength could be a problem for Nebraska. Edge Baylor. If Nebraska chooses to go with a four guard lineup, good luck guarding Jefferson in the post. Forward Isaiah Austin v Walter Pitchford Walter Pitchford V (yes, the fifth) is the lone big man that sees regular playing time for Nebraska. He brings some big game experience to a relatively young team. He transferred from Florida, a team that went to the Elite Eight two years ago when he was at the school (he had to sit out last year because of the transfer). He can also shoot from beyond the arc. He was tied for second on the team with 48 3-pointers this season. And he just seems like an all-around cool guy to talk to. In many ways, Austins’ game is a reflection of Pitchford’s. Both guys are tall and can nearly shoot it effectively when they cross half court. But Austin distances himself from Pitchford with his defense. The reason that his rebounding numbers may not be as high as you’d think they’d be is because of his ability to block shots, which he does regularly. He’s averaged 4.1 blocks over his last 14 games. Edge Baylor. Austin’s ability to anchor the Bears’ zone forces opponents to shoot from further distances.
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