Twenty-five days in the past, a consensus was once construction that Baylor — now not Gonzaga — was once the most productive group in faculty basketball. The Bears have been 17-Zero, mechanically beating excellent groups through double digits and appeared to have a sensible shot of coming into the NCAA Event unbeaten.
Then COVID-19 hit, this system close down for 3 weeks and the entire momentum No. 2-ranked Baylor had constructed was once all at once in danger.
Since getting back from its coronavirus outbreak, Baylor has survived an in depth sport towards Iowa State, the worst group within the Giant 12, and misplaced Saturday at No. 19 Kansas, 71-58.
Within the giant image, Baylor struggling its first lack of the season isn’t a large deal. It will also be a blessing in hide. If the purpose is to make the Ultimate 4 and in the end win the nationwide championship, there aren’t any bonus issues for being undefeated going into the event. If the rest, taking a loss within the common season — and a cheap one at that — removes any power or useless center of attention on seeking to grow to be the primary group since Indiana in 1976 to finish an unbeaten season.
It was once additionally the type of sport that, in the event you glance past the overall ranking, reasonably flatters the group that misplaced. Baylor didn’t play smartly through its requirements, making simply 35 p.c of its box objectives and 6-of-14 from the foul line. A Baylor group that led the country from Three-point vary at 43.2 p.c as a group made simply 6-of-26 in Allen Box Area and was once trailing through simply 5 issues on the 6-minute mark.
Regardless of the entire rust and in all probability fatigue Baylor skilled Saturday, it had a possibility to win down the stretch.
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However because the Bears input the overall week of the common season, whether or not they may be able to get their mojo again looms as probably the most largest questions for school basketball coming into the NCAA Event.
Baylor has 3 tricky video games in six days subsequent week and the Giant 12 Event after that sooner than Variety Sunday. It’s now not a large number of time for a group that have been rolling during the time table to construct again as much as its height degree.
That’s probably the most merciless portions for school basketball groups on this abnormal season.
Baylor has in fact needed to pause two times for COVID-19 — as soon as in December proper sooner than they have been about to play Gonzaga — and in the midst of the convention time table. When the virus struck the second one time, Baylor was once enjoying higher than any one. Now it’s a group seeking to get its rhythm, staying power and self belief again.
There’s no ensure that will occur. If truth be told, the entire concept that Baylor is a lock for a No. 1 seed may well be examined if issues pass sideways at West Virginia on Tuesday, towards Oklahoma State on Thursday and Texas Tech subsequent Sunday.
If Baylor can paintings its as far back as how it was once enjoying in January, its ultimate report gained’t in point of fact topic. As a result of that group was once excellent sufficient to be penciled into the Ultimate 4 and in all probability win all of it.
Can Baylor be that group once more, or did COVID-19 irreparably strip the Bears in their future? We’ll to find out in the following couple of weeks.
Observe columnist Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken