USA TODAY Sports
Baylor lost the latest game they absolutely had to win to have any chance at the NCAA Tournament and will now, barring a miracle in the Big 12 Tournament, almost certainly be left on the outside looking in. And honestly, having watched this team for 30 games now, they should be.
Going into tonight's game, Baylor had a chance, however small, to beat Texas in Austin, upset Kansas this weekend in the final game of the season, and then potentially make a statement in the Big 12 Tournament with a win or two that it belonged in the Big Dance. 40 minutes and several wide-open Texas shooters later, those chances are gone. It will take a true miracle-- Baylor doing something it's never done before in actually winning the conference tournament-- for the Bears to avoid perpetuating the pattern of Elite 8 -- NIT -- Elite 8 -- NIT. It was never going to be an easy sell considering this team's overall resume, but at least we had a chance. Now we've lost 8 of our last 11 and have only 3 road wins in conference play. 3.
The story of this team will ultimately be one of unfilled potential, disappointment, and failure despite the individual progress made by guys like Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers and the nearly-heroic performances of Pierre Jackson. Early losses to College of Charleston and Northwestern should have been the wake-up calls this team needed, and if those weren't enough, you'd think blowout losses to Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma would have been, but the damage may have already been done. The identify of this team as one that never did the little things: making foul shots, grabbing rebounds, getting your hands up on defense, touching the ball on full-court passes, was forged.
Teams with this much talent shouldn't make these mistakes, do things this poorly. There is no good excuse. March is going to be beyond awful.