Enough with the fuss about Baylor not playing enough Big 12 games; let it play out & see what happens
According to a report from CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, the Big 12 is in the process of canceling/rescheduling Thursday night’s Baylor-West Virginia game as part of a bigger puzzle to make as many pieces as possible fit by the end of next week.
It’s no easy task. And the fact that Baylor will catch a break by not having to play all 18 games of its Big 12 schedule has Kansas fans more than a little fired up.
They’re fired up because of the past notion held by fans at other Big 12 schools that the Big 12 always caters to Kansas but appears to be doing that for Baylor this time. Their words, not mine.
They’re fired up because some of them — not Kansas coach Bill Self — believe that Baylor could still be chased down in the Big 12 race, leaving the door open for KU to still be alive for a Big 12 title. Again, their words, not mine.
And they’re fired up because, let’s face it, that’s what fans do: They get fired up in support of their team and like to take shots at others. While so much of what has gone on during the 2020-21 season has been new, this fact is not. Fans acting like fanatics is as old as time.
I’m not too worried about the first and third scenarios listed above. But it’s that second one that needs to be addressed, because anyone who thinks any team other than Baylor is going to win the league this season needs to take a deep breath and think again.
Yes, the Bears still have nine games to play. No, they’re not going to get to all of them. And I’ve already written about what will happen if/when the Bears finish the season having played just 15 or 16 games against Big 12 foes. It's all about phantom losses and adjusted winning percentage.
But let’s pretend for a minute that we live in some dream world where there’s still time for Baylor (and everyone else) to play all nine games remaining on its original schedule. Even then the numbers still favor the Bears as Big 12 champs.
Here’s a look.
These are the games, in no particular order, that Baylor still has to play. Again, they’re not going to play all nine of these, but these are the results that are missing:
at West Virginia
vs. West Virginia
vs. Iowa State
vs. Texas Tech
vs. Oklahoma State
As you can see, six of the nine are at home. Even if Baylor were to lose all three road games but then swept the home games, BU would finish with three losses. Oklahoma and West Virginia currently have four. Kansas has five. Baylor would be Big 12 champs.
OK. So you think unbeaten Baylor, which has looked as good as any team in America throughout the season, is suddenly going to start dropping games left and right? Could happen. Rust and the layoff and the stress of breaking a rhythm can do funny things to a program. I’ll give you that. So let’s say Baylor drops the three road games and also loses to Texas and West Virginia at home — the two highest-ranked teams remaining on its home slate. Again, not likely, but let’s say it happens for argument’s sake. Baylor would finish 13-5 and Oklahoma and/or West Virginia would have to run the table to win the league. The Sooners still have five games left, West Virginia still has six left, and neither team is going to play them all.
OU: 2 versus Oklahoma State, 1 versus Baylor, 1 versus K-State and 1 versus Texas. Only the K-State game is a gimme.
WVU: 2 versus Baylor, 2 versus TCU, 1 versus K-State and 1 versus Oklahoma State. Three of the six look like easy wins and the other three are much tougher.
We could do this with every team still in the hunt (Kansas and Texas have five losses and Oklahoma State has six), but the fact remains that none of it is going to matter.
Because COVID has wrecked the Big 12 schedules and there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it now. Things are not going to be equal. And for every Kansas fan who says that’s unfair because the Jayhawks made it through and did their part, there’s a West Virginia or a Baylor fan that can say that their team caught some bad luck and would’ve won more or lost less if not for COVID. No one can say definitively what would have happened. So we do the best we can with what we know and what has happened.
We all knew that the pandemic was going to play a role in this whole thing when the season began. So it should be no surprise now that that’s exactly what’s happening now.
Baylor is most likely going to play five more games before the end of the regular season. That’ll put them at 14 total conference games. As I mentioned above, I wrote last week about what the league plans to do in the event that the final standings are unbalanced.
Almost every scenario, short of Baylor losing every one of the games it plays, has the Bears winning the conference.
Accept it. Deal with it. And get ready for March. Because, like most years — as Kansas fans know all too well — that’s all that truly matters anyway.
3:30 p.m. Update:
The Big 12 Conference this afternoon announced the complete schedule for next week, which was built into the schedule as an open week for make-up games.
The official word on why Thursday's Baylor-WVU game was canceled is as follows: "To avoid scheduling a team to play three games in successive weeks, the West Virginia at Baylor game scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25 has been canceled."
Baylor now has three games scheduled next week. If the Bears are able to play those three and they get their game in tonight and Saturday versus Kansas, they'll get to the 14-game mark by the start of the postseason.
Here's the full final week of Big 12 play:
Monday, March 1
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (ESPN), 8:00 p.m. CT
Tuesday, March 2
Baylor at West Virginia (ESPN/2), 4:00 p.m. CT
TCU at Texas Tech (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Texas at Iowa State (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Thursday, March 4
Iowa State at Texas Tech (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Oklahoma State at Baylor (ESPN/2)
TCU at West Virginia (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Texas at Oklahoma (ESPN/2)
Saturday, March 6
Oklahoma State at West Virginia (ESPN/2)
Iowa State at Kansas State (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Sunday, March 7
Texas Tech at Baylor (ESPN), 3:00 p.m. CT
Texas at TCU (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)