Baylor has been in this position before, and has the scars to prove it.
The last two years the Bears have been the poster child for NCAA first-round upsets.
Last season as a No. 5 seed, Baylor fell to 12th-seeded Ivy League champion Yale 79-75 in the opening round.
The previous year, as a No. 3 seed, Baylor was ousted when Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter nailed a ‘one shining moment’ 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left that floored his coach and devastated the Bears.
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Third-seeded Baylor (25-7) hopes to avoid a similar pitfall at 11:40 a.m. Friday on truTV against No. 14 seed New Mexico State in an East Regional game in Tulsa, Okla.
New Mexico State (28-5), making its 22nd NCAA appearance and sixth in eight seasons, has its own shopping list of crushing tourney losses.
They recall recent first-round exits against the likes of Kansas, Indiana, Michigan State, Kevin Durant’s Texas Longhorns and Kentucky. But the Aggies were overwhelming underdogs each time, and are again Friday.
Baylor started this season 15-0, was ranked No. 1 at one point and finished second in the tough Big 12 Conference. But the Bears have gone 5-6 since Feb. 1.
Baylor’s top five scorers are juniors, led by Johnathan Motley (17.3) and Manu Lecomte (12.4). Seven-foot Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. chips in 9.2 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds.
The only senior on New Mexico State’s roster is guard Ian Baker, the scoring (16.6) and assist (4.1) leader.
NMSU set a school record for wins, ripped off 20 consecutive victories at one stretch and was second in the Western Athletic Conference, all under first-year coach Paul Weir. In the WAC title game, they rallied from down nine at halftime to beat league champ Cal State Bakersfield 70-60.