Baylor became one of the first teams this season to enter the Top 25 by virtue of a credible victory, with the Bears having defeated then-No. 4 Oregon last week.Virginia Commonwealth would like to follow that same script into the Top 25 next week.Rankings aside, Baylor (3-0) and VCU (3-0) will look across the court at a quality opponent on Wednesday when they face each other at the Battle 4 Atlantis at 2:30 p.m. ET in Nassau, Bahamas.Baylor showed off a couple of new weapons in its 66-49 win over Oregon. Junior guard Manu Lecomte, a transfer from Miami, scored 18 points and dished out seven assists, and junior college transfer Jo Lual-Acuil scored eight points, blocked seven shots and grabbed 14 rebounds.Those two players, as much as the impressive victory over the Ducks, captured the attention of the college basketball world -- including VCU coach Will Wade.Baylor is very, very talented, Wade said. I dont think a lot of people knew how good Manu Lecomte was going to be for them. Baylors a good team. That was no fluke. They beat Oregon pretty good.On the flip side, Baylor coach Scott Drew knows the Rams wont be star struck.VCU is accustomed to playing top-notch nonconference competition and has the March Madness credibility in recent years to match just about anyone in college basketball.Last season, the Rams advanced a round farther than Baylor as VCU defeated seventh-seeded Oregon State in the opening round. Then the Rams pushed Final Four-bound Oklahoma for 40 minutes before the Sooners escaped Oklahoma City with a four-point win.This is a team that is very competitive, great tradition, been in the NCAA Tournament six straight years, Drew said. So, a team thats used to being successful, used to winning.While Baylor is mixing its new standouts with quality veterans, VCU rolls with many of the same faces that helped the Rams win 25 games a year ago. Seniors Mo Allie-Cox, JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess and Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed, and junior Justin Tillman played leading roles last season and are back for more.Those players and new additions give VCU the depth that concerns Drew.They play extremely hard, play 10 guys, lot of pressure man-to-man, very physical team, Drew said.But this wont be Baylors first go-round this season with a tough opponent.Wade has seen how much trouble the Bears zone defense gave Oregon. Its easy to see how. Lual-Acuil (7-foot), forward Johnathan Motley (6-10) and reserve Terry Maston (6-8) thrive on swatting away shots in the lane.Their length will be a major, major issue for us, Wade said. We havent seen length like this since we played maybe Florida State last year. Theyve got just about everything you want in a good basketball team. It will be a challenge.Whoever survives Wednesdays game will go back for a second helping of top-level competition on Thanksgiving Day. 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SEARS POINT, Calif. -- For the first time since 2005, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship was decided by a landslide.On the strength of seven poles and five race wins, Simon Pagenaud overwhelmed the open-wheel competition in 2016 on the way to his first IndyCar Series title.The 32-year-old Frenchman delivered on all the potential he has demonstrated throughout his varied racing career to take a commanding victory Sunday in the GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway. He led 76 of 85 laps to best his longtime rival Graham Rahal by 3.25 seconds to put an exclamation point on his championship season.Although they didnt factor in Sundays race, Will Power and Helio Castroneves completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the IndyCar Series season standings by Team Penske on the occasion of team owner Roger Penskes 50th season in motorsports.With a 44-point cushion over Power to start the race, it was going to take something going drastically wrong for Pagenaud to miss out on his first IndyCar title. Instead, the misfortune befell his teammate, who finished 20th after an electronics glitch caused a clutch failure in the finale.Its unbelievable. ? What a race! Pagenaud exclaimed in a Victory Lane interview.?So much emotion right now, and to be honest its hard to find the words.My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point, getting to this level and running up front like that when you need it, he continued. For an athlete, I think when you can perform 100 percent under pressure like this is amazing.?Its such a great feeling.Befitting Penskes year-long 50th anniversary celebration, The Captains Indy car team performed even better than expected, winning 10 of 16 races in 2016 as well as 11 poles.Despite Powers best efforts, Pagenaud showed he was head and shoulders above the rest this year. His 127-point margin over Power in the final standings is the biggest since IndyCar introduced the basis of its current scoring system in 1996.Pagenaud went out and took it this weekend, Team Penske president Tim Cindric said. He sat on pole, led laps, won the race -- I mean, he did everything he needed to do. It was really impressive.We wanted to give Roger some success on his 50th anniversary and thats what we were able to do, Cindric added. After what happened here last year, its a lot easier to leave here 1-2-3 than the way it turned out last year for sure.The turnaround compared to a year ago could not have been more complete. At the 2015 season finale at Sonoma, Penskes Juan Montoya collided with Power and squandered a seemingly safe 34-point championship lead, handing the title to Ganassi Racings Scott Dixon.This year, the only question was whether Penske could finish off its first 1-2-3 whitewash of the IndyCar standings since Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy throttled the CART series back in 1994. Castroneves edged Ed Carpennter Racings Josef Newgarden (who many observers tip to join the Penske team next year, replacing Montoya) for third place in the points chase.ddddddddddddI felt bad for Will, but Ive had my share of bad luck and I know thats the way it goes sometimes, Pagenaud said. I think its safe to say we had a fair fight this year.One thing I did well this year was that I tried to keep my emotions very steady without going crazy on the radio, he added. When I saw he was slowing down, I have to say it was a relief. I thought, Now we can finally unleash the beast inside and go for the win.What an incredible day -- this is the most dominant we have been.After what was widely perceived as a disappointing first year with Team Penske in 2015, when he failed to win a race and finished 11th in the standings, Pagenaud performed at a high level from the start of the 2016 campaign.He led the most laps in the opener, and while he lost the win on an aggressive restart by teammate Montoya, the 43 points Pagenaud scored at St. Petersburg proved to be the decisive advantage he needed over Power all year long.Although he is yet to win on an oval, Pagenaud significantly upped his game in that aspect this year. But his bread and butter remains the natural terrain road courses, where he earned wins at Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis and Sonoma to go along with a street course triumph at Long Beach.But his win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will stand as Pagenauds signature moment. He and Power battled wheel to wheel for a full 14-corner lap before the Frenchman pulled ahead into a lead he would not give up.Its like a football team, he said. You have to make sure the chemistry is the best and it took awhile to make it happen. My team worked so well this year and there werent any disputes with any of my teammates.But to me, the biggest points this season were the times when it was bad, he added. Obviously we always see the good days, but Gil de Ferran told me if you can have a bad day and nobody notices, thats how you do a really good job -- and thats how you win a championship.While Pagenaud celebrated, Power was left to consider his fourth second-place finish in the IndyCar Series championship since 2010. But he didnt take this loss as hard as he may have in the past.Ive had much more frustrating ends to a season than this, I can promise you, Power said. It was still a great year. We won a 500-mile race -- not the right one, but we won a 500-miler and 1-2-3 in the championship for the team, which is really good considering the way it turned out last year.It was just his year, Power added. Everything fell for him and when it came down to the end here, he did everything he needed to do and made it difficult for me.He did a great job. ' ' '