In high school there was a phrase that my friends and I used on a continuous basis during the baseball season. As fans of the Washington Nationals, especially from 2007-2010, we counted down the days to opening day. Then we counted down the days until the Nats were officially ‘mathematically eliminated’ from postseason contention. It made things interesting when Washington was 30 games out, but technically still alive for the postseason.
This term came to the front of mind last night when Kansas State defeated Kansas 70-63 in the Octagon of Doom. One moment you’re watching Good Will Hunting and the next you’re mind is racing about how Baylor can better position themselves for the postseason.
So how exactly does this all relate to Baylor basketball?
It means the Bears are not yet mathematically eliminated from winning a Big XII regular season championship. For those who like to believe in unlikelihood or unfathomable scenarios, then keep reading. Read about what dominos will have to fall in order for the Bears to capture the Big XII crown in men’s basketball.
Man don’t those losses to Oklahoma State (2), Kansas State and Kansas look bad now?
The Cowboys are barley a five hundred team in conference play. After an unnecessary two-point loss, Coach Drew was able to blow the Wildcats out by nearly 30 at home, which included an eight-minute scoring drought to start the second half. And of course, Johnathan Motley was unable to receive the benefit of the doubt on that charge/block at home; a two-point swing that would have created a two-game swing in the current standings.
Look at it this way, Baylor is 8-6 in conference, sitting in fifth place of the current standings with four games remaining. It is very likely that the Bears win three of their next four, finish 11-7 and get a three/four seed in Kansas City.
Here are the top five teams in the Big XII standings (all ranked):
1. #8 Kansas: 11-4
2. #12 Iowa State: 10-4
3. #16 Oklahoma: 10-5
4. #20 West Virginia: 9-5
5. # 19 Baylor: 8-6
Here is a step-by-step look, however, on how the Bears can win the Big XII:
1. Win out.
a. The biggest challenge here is obviously winning in Ames. Baylor has never done so, and they barely scraped by the Cyclones at the Ferrell earlier this season.
b. After that, West Virginia at home, Big Monday at Texas and senior night against Tech. No cupcakes here either.
2. Bears win out then they jump WVA. Having beaten them twice on the season, both teams would have at least six conference losses. Even if the Mountaineers only lost to us in their final games, the Bears should jump them.
3. Iowa State would need to drop one more game after us. They are on the road against Kansas State and TCU with the Sooners sandwiched in between at home. If the Cyclones were to fall again after Baylor wins Wednesday then Baylor should jump for the same logic used above for WVA.
a. The Cyclones will have to lose to us, and then either TCU or Kansas State. They must beat Oklahoma.
4. Now it gets tricky as we discuss how Baylor can leapfrog Oklahoma and Kansas (teams that they no longer face this year). Lets start with the Sooners. If Oklahoma falters once more they will be tied with the Bears, but the Bears and Sooners split the season series.
a. First tiebreaker is to compare the team’s record against the teams above them in the conference. Since we want to assume that Baylor would be on top this does not apply. Then it goes to better conference road record.
b. It is easier to just have Oklahoma lose twice to ensure that they would rank below Baylor and not roll the dice with tiebreakers. They play TCU, Iowa State and Kansas. The best case for us is for them to drop games to TCU and Iowa State.
i. This means that Iowa State needs to lose to us and then either K-State or TCU.
ii. Kansas has to lose out in order for Baylor to win; therefore we need Oklahoma’s help in that regard.
5. The dreaded Kansas Jayhawks. On their way to an eleventh straight Big XII regular season championship. Still the door is open for a colossal collapse in Lawrence. Kansas faces Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma to close their season with the first two at home in Phog Allen.
a. They need to lose them all. The Jayhawks own the tiebreaker over the Bears this season.
There you have it. A blueprint that will catapult the Bears men’s basketball team to a conference championship, and complete the trifecta with football and Kim Mulkey’s women’s team. This will be very nearly hard to accomplish, especially because the Bears need so much help from so many different teams.
The biggest things to remember are that the Bears need to win all of their remaining games. Certainly doable even if that means traveling up to Ames, Iowa, and facing a confident Mountaineer team at home. The second piece of this dramatic championship puzzle is for Kansas to not win at all for the rest for the regular season.
Still, this is all certainly possible. As the saying goes: Baylor is by no means ‘mathematically eliminated’ yet from obtaining a conference championship.
 Does this make us co-champions?
 There are still too many variables here to determine. Lets consider this article the utopian version of how Baylor wins the Big XII.
 If they lose two games and Baylor does win out does that mean we’re technically co-champions? Seriously, confused with the tiebreakers here.
 Baylor could also tie for the title too. My scenario is based on us winning it outright.