Transfers rise for Baylor, Creighton in March Madness

DENVER (AP) — There’s a good-natured debate about which is better Baylor — Scheierman or the Bears.

Some answers will come on Sunday when Baylor Scheierman and No. 6 seed Creighton hosts third-seeded Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

One thing both schools can agree on: the importance of a transfer stepping in to fill a missing piece for an otherwise solid program. There are schools that use the transfer portal to get good quickly. Then there are schools like Baylor (23-10) and Creighton (22-12) that use the portal to stay good for a while.

The Bears brought in two players in Jalen Bridges (from West Virginia) and Caleb Lohner (BYU) to fill gaps and try to run to a second title in three seasons.

For Creighton, the big addition was Scheierman, the highly touted player who left South Dakota State and chose to stay close to home (he’s from Nebraska).

He is definitely on the radar of Baylor coach Scott Drew.

“Love his name,” Drew gushed. “Hopefully this Baylor does better than that Baylor tomorrow.”

Scheierman made a big impression in a first-round win over North Carolina State, sealing the game with a late basket and kissing the crowd in celebration.

It is safe to say that he has settled into his new surroundings.

“Ever since I’ve been on campus, guys have taken me in and treated me like I’ve been there the whole time,” said Scheierman, who was the 2021-22 Summit League Player of the Year at South Dakota State. “The process coming in has been smooth and the chemistry in the team is very good, and at a very high level right now.”

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The same can be said at Baylor (the school).

When Bridges considered a new program for this season, he had a definitive checklist of warm weather, winning culture and family atmosphere leading the way.

Check, check and check with Bears.

“It was kind of easy to see myself here because they played a way that suited my style,” said Bridges, who is averaging 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds this season. “I’m just trying to do my best to make a play.”

Same with Lohner, who appeared in 62 games with BYU before coming to Baylor this season. He scored a season-high 13 points in a first-round win over Santa Barbara on Friday.

“For me (the transfer portal) has been amazing,” Lohner said. “One of those situations where everyone lined up and I’m very grateful and blessed to be in a place like this.”

At South Dakota State, Scheierman was counted on for his scoring (more specifically his 3-point shooting).

At Creighton, he has a lot of company. The Bluejays have a big man Ryan Kalkbrenner and guard Trey Alexander to help carry the scoring load.

“Coming in, I knew my role was going to be a lot different than it was at South Dakota State, and I accepted that,” Scheierman said. “I knew if we put it all together and we made a deep run, it would ultimately help all of our individual goals pan out.”

Sharing the same name as the school the Bluejays will play has been “a lot of fun,” Scheierman said.

Along with that, some confusion.

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“The last 24 hours, the coaches have been saying Baylor a lot, and it kind of threw me off a little bit,” Scheierman said. “I didn’t really follow them that much growing up and what not. Of course, I always knew we had the same name, but at the end of the day, it’s just another basketball game.” ___

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