By Akiem Bailum
Georgia State Signal
The NCAA tournament field is set and three-seed Baylor knows who its opponent will be in the second round on Thursday. That will be the 14-seed Georgia State Panthers, winners of the regular season and postseason Sun Belt conference championship.
If anyone knows why they call it March Madness, it is because lower seeds are able to give the threes and fours all they can handle. GSU has the potential to be no exception to this rule.
Critics were a bit surprised when Baylor was seeded by the Selection Committee as a three-seed and felt that it may be too high. The Bears know how to shoot the three and finished the season with the second-highest scoring margin in the Big 12 (+9.3).
Baylor has also been known to be somewhat turnover prone, which is why the draw against Ron Hunter’s Panthers has the potential to be a tough test.
The zone defense is at the nucleus of the Panthers’ defensive game. GSU knows how to turn defense into offense. The Panthers also present one of the most prolific shooters in the country in junior 6-foot-6 guard R.J. Hunter, the coach’s son and sought-after NBA prospect.
Georgia State has one of the best backcourts in the country with Hunter and senior guard Ryan Harrow, but Harrow has been on the shelf with a hamstring strain. It does still have Kevin Ware (yes, that Kevin Ware) ,who dropped 18 points on Georgia Southern in the Panthers’ Sun Belt title win over the Eagles.
The Bears need to make things difficult for Georgia State by draining threes and crashing the offensive glass — a weakness of the Panthers. But, if head coach Ron Hunter’s defense is clicking and R.J. Hunter looks like the NBA prospect he is, GSU may start to try on Cinderella’s glass slipper at Baylor’s expense.