ABOUT BAYLOR | The Lady Bears are the #1 ranked team in the country by the polls, and through Thursday are #6 in the RPI. All of that has been done while playing the 17th toughest schedule to date. Baylor's only loss was by one point at Connecticut. Their wins include Michigan St, Notre Dame, and Tennessee.
Baylor has been beating teams by a whopping 33.4 points per game (#1 in the country). They play a tenacious defense that only allows opponents to hit 30.8% of their shots (also #1 in the country). Some of that is helped by the 7.2 blocked shots per game (also #1 in the country).
They are in the top 5 statistically in seven other major categories, including scoring offense and defense, field-goal percentage, rebound margin, and turnovers, and in the top 20 in three more. They only have two "weaknesses": They don't steal the ball much (8.8 steals per game, #158) -- with their blocking and rebounding ability, they don't really have to, waiting for the opponent to make their own mistakes; They also don't shoot a lot of threes -- I haven't watched them at all, so I don't know if they drive to the basket, or settle for mid-range jumpers.
ABOUT TECH | The Lady Raiders' are #25 in the coaches poll, and are also #25 in the RPI through Thursday. Their record is somewhat inflated by a pretty weak schedule to date (#95 SOS). However, with the exception of @Penn St and @Oklahoma, Tech has taken care of business. Their best wins are against California and @Kansas.
Statistically, Tech does not match up well at all with Baylor, except in scoring defense (#13), rebound margin (#10), and steals (#31). Tech's scoring margin is pretty good at 16.5 (#19), but again, that is a little less than half what Baylor wins by.
KEY MATCHUPS | I don't know how much analysis I'll be able to put into the player matchups for most games, but this game is easy. Tech has a fairly simple choice to make: Do everything necessary to limit Griner and force the rest of the Bears to compensate; Let Griner get her points, but force everyone else to take shots from outside the arc. If Tech goes with the first choice, then I would rotate back and forth between Barncastle and Mallard, keeping one or both draped on Griner the whole game. Griner proved last year that Barncastle can get under her skin, and it might be worth pushing that button again, if it gets her out of her game.
OUTLOOK | The chances for a win in this game are very slim for Tech. Put bluntly, Baylor is badass this year, and is completely deserving of their ranking. I won't say a win is impossible, but I think the Lady Raiders are still going through enough growing pains to keep them from doing so.
I won't be at all surprised if Tech loses by 10-15. In fact, that might almost be considered a moral victory, considering Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Iowa St all lost by 11-12 points. As long as Baylor doesn't break Tech's spirit, and beat them so badly it becomes demoralizing, I'll be happy.