Every history-making rock-and-roll band dreams of a farewell tour to celebrate years of successful work with fans, before the band dissolves into just a memory.Monday, the next big bon voyage tour was announced for another history-making group — the Baylor Lady Bears.Baylor (32-1) enters the 2013 Women’s NCAA Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed, facing No. 16 Prairie View A&M (17-14) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Waco, coming out of the Oklahoma City regional.Of course, the program will carry on past this NCAA Tournament, but the band just won’t ever be the same without arguably the greatest player to lace them up in the women’s colligate game, Brittney Griner.This Baylor team is certainly on a mission.Coming off the program’s second national championship last season, the goal is more than just repeating as the nation’s best. It’s sending this all-star squad off on top, where everyone expects this edition of the Lady Bears to finish.“Yeah, coach said in the locker room they were on a mission,” Kansas State senior guard Brittany Chambers said after her loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament. “They turned it up a notch. We just played one week ago. From then it’s a different team even.”The reality of the moment set in during the Big 12 Tournament and players and coaches alike realize Baylor’s window of greatness may be closing for the time after Griner becomes the eighth Lady Bear to join the ranks of the WNBA.“I don’t take championships for granted,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said after Baylor’s Big 12 Tournament title victory. “We may never win another one. This may be our last Big 12 championship. Who knows? But the thing you can’t say about this bunch is that we were talented and never won it all, never won any.”And winning in the postseason is what this Baylor team has done over the past four years with Griner patrolling the low post. Since 2010, Baylor has an astronomical winning percentage of 87 percent.In 2010, Baylor lost to the eventual champion, Connecticut in the Final Four and would again be bounced by the national champion in 2011 when Texas A&M ended Baylor’s season in the Elite 8.The next year bolstered that winning percentage with a perfect six-for-six run to the program’s second national championship, the first in 2005.Baylor last faced SWAC champion Prairie View in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, gliding to an easy 66-30 win in the home of the Lady Bears, the Ferrell Center. Baylor holds a perfect 14-0 record all-time against Prairie View.However, for Baylor to return to the title game this season, the Lady Bears will have to potentially beat Stanford, another one seed, who handed Baylor its only loss in two straight regular seasons earlier this year. Stanford heads up the Spokane regional and wouldn’t face Baylor until the Final Four in New Orleans.Baylor has made a living on NCAA Tournament play over the past decade and the pressure to win may never be as high as this 2013 campaign, but the experience has created a winning formula that the Lady Bears intend to follow through to New Orleans.“We’re just out there having fun, taking it one game at a time, not overlooking past anybody,” junior guard Odyssey Sims said after the Big 12 Tournament. “We have a great team and we’re able to come out and beat everybody, I guess.”
Baylor (Oklahoma City Region)
First game: vs. No. 16 Prairie View A&M (17-14), approx. 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Waco.
Top player: P Brittney Griner (6-8, senior). Averages 23.6 points, 9 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game.
Notable: Baylor can become the fourth team to win back-to-back NCAA titles with a 2013 win, joining USC, Tennessee (twice) and Connecticut (twice). The Lady Bears own the country’s longest active win streak at 30 games.
Stanford (Spokane Region)
First game: vs. No. 16 Tulsa (17-16), approx. 4:20 p.m. Sunday, Stanford, Calif.
Top player: F Chiney Ogwumike (6-3, junior). Averages 22.3 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.
Notable: Stanford is the only team to beat No. 1 Baylor in the past two regular seasons, 71-69 in the Cardinal’s third game this season. The two could face again in the Final Four.
Notre Dame (Norfolk Region)
First game: vs. No. 16 University of Tennessee–Martin (19-14), approx. 4:05 p.m. Sunday, Iowa City, Iowa
Top player: G Skylar Diggins (5-9, senior). Averages 17 points and 5.9 assists per game.
Notable: Looking to make third straight national final appearance, losing to Texas A&M and Baylor respectively the past two seasons.
Connecticut (Bridgeport Region)
First game: vs. No. 16 Idaho (17-15), approx. 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Storrs, Conn.
Top Player: C Stefanie Dolson ( 6-5, junior) Averaging 14.4 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Notable: UConn enters the tournament on its first at-large bid since 2007 and has reached the Final Four in 10 of the past 13 seasons. The Huskies are 41-4 all time in NCAA Tournament games in their home state.
Big 12/State of Texas
Texas Tech (21-10)
Seed: 7 in Spokane Region
First game: vs. No. 10 South Florida (21-10), approx. 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Lubbock
Notable: Tech finished the Big 12 Tournament ranked top in the conference in steals, 10.4 per game, and turnover margin, plus-5.2
Texas A&M (24-9)
Seed: 3 in Norfolk Region
First game: vs. No. 14 Wichita State (24-9), approx. 3:05 p.m.Saturday, College Station
Notable: A&M enters its 10th all-time NCAA Tournament as one of four teams selected as a four seed or higher over the past seven years, including Duke, UConn and Stanford.
Seed: 6 in Oklahoma City Region
First game: vs. No. 11 Central Michigan (21-11), approx. 10:10 a.m. Saturday, Columbus, Ohio.
Notable: OU is 12-2 all time in first-round games of the NCAA Tournament. Junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg has stepped into the star role, averaging 18.5 points per game this season, filling in for injured senior Whitney Hand
Oklahoma State (21-10)
Seed: 7 in Norfolk Region
First game: vs. No. 10 DePaul (21-11), approx. 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Durham, N.C.
Notable: Gave Baylor its biggest run for its money during the Big 12 Tournament, coming within three points of the No. 1 team with around a minute to play in the tournament semifinal.
Seed: 12 in Norfolk Region
First game: vs. No. 5 Colorado (25-6), approx. 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Boulder, Colo.
Notable: Kansas is led by Naismith Award finalist Angel Goodrich, who is the all-time assist leader in program history and averages 14.2 points per game.
Iowa State (23-8)
Seed: 5 in Spokane Region
First game: vs. No. 12 Gonzaga (27-5), approx. 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Spokane, Wash.
Notable: ISU finished the runner-up in the Big 12 Tournament. Led by senior center Anna Prins, averaging 12 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
West Virginia (17-13)
Seed: 11 in Bridgeport Region
First game: vs. No. 6 Delaware (30-3), approx. 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Newark, Del.
Notable: West Virginia is 1-1 as an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, losing to No. 6 Ohio State in 2004 and beating Xavier in 2007.