No. 1 Lady Bears begin NCAA Tournament Saturday against Abilene Christian
If any of the Baylor Lady Bears didn't know where Abilene, Texas was located, head coach Kim Mulkey used a song produced in 1963 to make sure they do now.
The Lady Bears (31-1) welcome in the Southland Conference champion Abilene Christian Wildcats to the Ferrell Center in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday at 5 p.m.
"I played the music, Abilene, Abilene," Mulkey said, singing the city name twice. "Sheryl Crow has a song about Abilene, doesn't she? Y'all don't know these things. I can tell by the look on your faces. That disappoints me because I think y'all are well-rounded media people. Go listen to those songs, and then before we leave, tell me who sang the song."
While Mulkey enjoys George Hamilton IV's song, it's obvious the players enjoy more contemporary music.
"She sings it over and over," senior center Kalani Brown said. "So, it does get a little...I don't want to say."
Per usual this season, junior forward Lauren Cox assisted Brown to the desired outcome. Only this time, in quote form.
"She gets stuck on that one song, and it's just non-stop," Cox said.
"Throughout the whole practice," Brown said.
The Lady Bears begin the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the third time in program history, joining the 2011-12 and 2012-13 teams. It'll be the 16th straight season that Mulkey and the Lady Bears extend their season beyond the conference tournament.
Baylor and Abilene Christian (23-9) have faced off just once, with the Lady Bears winning 79-34 in 2016.
Only five times this season have the Lady Bears won by less than 10 points.
"We do recognize we're one of the top teams when the season starts, Mulkey said. "We realize we're going to get everyone's best shot. We realize that and we embrace that. That's why these players came to Baylor. That doesn't mean we prepare any differently."
The post duo of Brown and Cox have been the talk of the women's college basketball world, and for good reason, having been named All-Big 12 First Team members.
They also joined teammate DiDi Richards on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, which is something that had never been done before.
Baylor ranks in the top 10 in 14 statistical categories, including a nation-best mark in rebounds per game (33.0), rebound margin (+16.8) and field-goal percentage defense (31.2%).
The Baylor-Abilene Christian winner will advance to play the winner of North Carolina-California in the second round, which will also be played at the Ferrell Center.