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Odds Favor Baylor To Get Past Saint Mary’s

March 24th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

A Sweet-16 match up in the South regional showcases an expected team, versus a pleasant surprise, when No.3 seed Baylor faces No.10 seed Saint Mary’s on Friday night.

Saint Mary’s surprised No.7 seed Richmond in the opener, but then pulled off a stunning upset of No.2 seed Villanova in the second round.

Omar Samhan led the Gaels to the win with 32 points to knock off the Wildcats 75-68.

“Did it really happen?” Samhan said after the game. “We won? For real?”

“Number One. Best win ever. Quote it,” Samhan remarked. “Omar Samhan said, ‘Best win ever.’ It was.”

It was a career-high in points for Samhan, as the Gaels advance forward to meet Baylor.

“Nobody expected us to be in this situation when we started the year,” remarked head coach Randy Bennett. “Maybe the guys did, but I think even they would admit we were a little unsure.”

The Gaels shot 50 percent from the floor, but played with an energy and excitement that could not be match by Villanova.  Saint Mary’s limited the Wildcats to just 36 percent shooting from the floor and took them out of their rhythm on offense.

The Gaels controlled the low-post in the match up, and will put an emphasis on that against Baylor. Winning the battle in the paint opens up the floor for Saint Mary’s, where hey can attack from beyond the arc.

Baylor took care of Old Dominion 76-68 in the second round, behind 26 points from LaceDarius Dunn.

The Bears jumped all over the Monarchs in the first half and on into the second, at one point leading by 14 points before relaxing and allowing Old Dominion to crawl back in.  Baylor went on another quick run to keep the game out of reach.

Baylor makes their first sweet-16 in school history, and will come out with an energy equal to Saint Mary’s.

The Bears will have to figure out how to limit Samhan, and keep him from duplicating the performance he had against Villanova.  Clearly, the Gaels are not intimated by who they play, and the win over the Wildcats only breeds their confidence.

Saint Mary’s will try and slow down the pace of the game, but the Bears will be fine with that.  Their 7-footer, Josh Lomers, is coming off a career-high 14-point performance against Old Dominion and asserts himself in the paint.  If they can get him going, Saint Mary’s may find it tough to hang around in this one.

Baylor is favored to advance to the Elite 8 according to Online Sportsbooks, as they have been set as a four-point favorite.  The over/under for the contest is set at 145 points.

The game can be seen Friday night a 7:25pm Est and will be broadcast by CBS.

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