While nobody wanted Baylor and Gonzaga to get cancelled, the programs appear very committed to playing this game.
Here are the options:
1) Play Saturday December 26 or Sunday December 27:
I asked Drew about this possibility to open the press conference, and he noted it’s too soon to have anything definitive about the game.
Baylor and Gonzaga both play on Monday December 21 and then on Tuesday December 29. Those four games are all against sub 240 KenPom teams, so adding a tough Saturday matchup wouldn’t be as big of an obstacle. Each program takes every game seriously, but it’s not like Baylor has Texas or Kansas that following Tuesday.
The challenge is that it would mean the players could not leave for Christmas. At the press conference, Drew told Matt Norlander of CBS that the current plan was to have the players go home for Christmas. He said they’d reconvene and discuss every option.
My preference would be to have the game this weekend. It’s a clear open date. But it’s easy for me to tell people not to see their family for Christmas. Or maybe I’m waging a War on Christmas! Plenty of guys may not feel like not seeing their families.
2) Eliminate a buy game:
Baylor and Gonzaga could just cancel one of their games on the 21st or the 29th. They could write checks for either cancelled opponent and play each other on that day.
This is a reasonable option too, especially if guys want to go home for Christmas. But it removes a win from each team’s schedule.
3) Play after the season ends, but before the West Coast Conference Tournament:
The season ends for both teams on February 27th. The West Coast Conference Tournament should start on March 5th for Gonzaga. That leaves a few days where Baylor and Gonzaga could play before their tournament (the Big 12 doesn’t start until March 10th).
The challenge here is that the window is small. There aren’t that many days before the WCC Tournament.
And the Big 12 or WCC may need to schedule makeup games before their conference tournaments.
4) See if each has a cancelled game:
We know it’s extremely unlikely both programs avoid cancellations the rest of the way. If they each have an opening, they could meet.
The issue here is that you need both to have a cancellation at the same time. And then they’d both have to play this game during what could be a grueling stretch. Does Baylor want to spend three days preparing for Kansas, then turn around and play Gonzaga in 24 hours if the Jayhawks have to delay the game? And how do they get the logistics—TV, venue and travel—planned in short order? I think the logistics concern can be overcome, but I’m not a huge fan of that option with how tough the Big 12 will be.
5) Play three times in a week:
Baylor and Gonzaga play their conference games twice in a week. They could play each other and play three times one week.
I don’t like this option. Gonzaga plays Thursday games all season. Baylor only plays Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That means someone is going to have less rest on an already very short week. Do these teams want to add a third grueling game without much rest during league play?
Any game is good:
While I think option one is the best one—it also could reduce outbreaks if the players remain in Waco instead of going home—I like any option that gets us Gonzaga-Baylor. These are the clear two best teams, and these two deserve to play.
Both programs are committed to playing this game. Let’s hope one of these options work out, and we can get it.