Baylor provided a tough test for a young and developing Vanderbilt team on the hardwood last winter. Now, according to CBS Sports's Jon Rothstein, the Bears will be the Commodores' out-of-conference measuring stick in 2015 and 2016.
Vanderbilt and Baylor will begin a home-and-home series next season in Waco, sources told @CBSSports. Return game in Nashville in 16-17.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 9, 2015
The two teams met in 2014 as part of the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Bears escaped from Memorial Gym with a 66-63 win en route to a top 20 spot in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Vanderbilt led that game with under six minutes to play, but the comeback Baylor win turned about to be another exhibit in 2014-15's museum of growing pains. Damian Jones had a monster night against Rico Gathers, scoring 21 points and adding nine rebounds.
When these two teams meet in Waco this winter, it could be a battle between top 25 programs. Vanderbilt lost only one major contributor to last season's 21-win team, and a stellar 2014 freshman class will only get better as sophomores. Those players will be buttressed by a top-25 recruiting haul that includes dunk machine Joseph Toye, sharpshooter Camron Justice, and two quality big men in D'Jery Baptiste and Samir Sehic.
Baylor will lose a big chunk of their backcourt thanks to the graduations of Kenny Chery and Royce O'Neal (O'Neal missed only two shots en route to dropping 22 points on the 'Dores last season. Despite those departures, they'll still have Gathers, Taurean Prince (19 points vs. Vandy), and Lester Medford to carry the weight. Eamonn Brennan has them pegged as the #17 team in the country for next season.