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Baylor mens and womens teams set to take center stage

SOUTH REGION: No. 3 Baylor 72, No. 10

SOUTH REGION: No. 3 Baylor 72, No. 10 St. Mary's 49
Baylor easily defeated St. Mary's to advance to the Elite Eight. LaceDarius Dunn scored 23 points to lead all scoring. | Game stats (Mar. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Top-seeded Duke (32-5) is looking for its first trip to the Final Four since 2004. No.3 Baylor (28-7) is looking for its first trip to the Final Four since 1950.

If you check the schedule again, you notice the No.4 Baylor women will take on second-seeded Duke (30-5) in an Elite 8 matchup on Monday. No it's not a misprint. Both of Baylor's teams will battle Duke with a trip to the Final Four on the line. It's the first time in NCAA history that one school's men's and women's teams will face the same opponent in an Elite 8 matchup.  

On the men: Considering where the Bears have come from, you have to be rooting for them this afternoon. Seven years ago, the Bears were reeling from the murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson. The program nearly crumbled under coach Dave Bliss. Bliss, who was cited for committing numerous NCAA violations, which included confessing to making tuition payments totaling $7,000 for two players. Bliss was slapped with a 10-year show-cause order by the NCAA. The order is in effect until 2015. Any school wishing to hire Bliss must get approval from the NCAA infractions committee. In addition to a post season ban and a reduction in scholarships, the program was put on probation through June 22, 2010.

Today is a new day and Scott Drew has turned the program completely around. No longer a doormat in the Big 12, Baylor has made the NCAA Tournament twice in the last three seasons. The success of the basketball program could really make Baylor the place to be in the Big 12 for the next several years. Considering the downward plight of the football team, the basketball program will have the university's student body to itself.  

On the women: The Baylor women don't have the ugly history of the men. The Baylor women have made the tournament eight of the last 10 years. In 2005 the Bears made it to the top of the hill and won a national title. So it's hold hat for the women.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen Baylor freshman center Brittney Griner play, you are missing something. Griner has 26 blocks in the NCAA women's tourney, four away from the all-time record of 30 in one tournament set by Duke's Alison Bales in 2006. 

The 6-8 freshman had a tournament record 14 blocks in Baylor's second-round win over Georgetown. She followed that up with a 27-point, 10-block effort in a win over Tennessee on Saturday.  

 Griner's presence in the paint is the sole reason Baylor is where it is. Don't get us wrong, basketball is a team game, but when you have someone in the middle who can completely lock it down, scoring points becomes as hard as pulling teeth.

Getting back to the history aspect of things, both programs making the Final Four will be a monumental achievement. Recruits will be beating the path to the doors of Drew and women's coach Kim Mulkey.

New York Sports