2013-14 Preview: Baylor Bears

Cory Jefferson has developed into a critical player for Baylor in 2013-14. AP Photo/Brody Schmidt

Baylor Bears

2012-13: 23-14 (9-9 Big 12)
In-conference offense: 1.05 points per possession (6th)
In-conference defense: 0.98 points per possession (3rd)

Based on the preseason AP poll, Baylor was the second-highest-ranked team to miss the NCAA tournament. It's not like it was that far off, though. Flip two losses to Oklahoma State (the Bears lost a pair to the Cowboys by two points each) and Baylor might well have qualified. Even so, the Bears made the most of their No. 1 seeding in the NIT, winning three home games to get to Madison Square Garden, where they won two contests over quality competition with relative ease.

Along the way, basketball junkies were introduced to the work of 6-foot-9 Cory Jefferson, who has set himself up to be the rare senior to have a breakout season. As a junior, Jefferson posted a sublime 128 offensive rating while using 19 percent of Baylor's possessions. But in the five NIT games, he improved on that by making 41 of 56 2-pointers (73 percent) and 24 of 32 free throws (75 percent) to produce a 144 offensive rating on 27 percent usage. Those are the kinds of numbers Kansas freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will not achieve this season.