In front of an extremely partisan crowd, Scott Drew's Baylor Bears simply ran until they could run no more, falling to Iowa State 74-65 in a classic Big 12 Tournament championship game. History would be made no matter who won in that a seed higher than 3 would win the Tournament, but the truly shocking event of a 7 taking home the trophy just wasn't in the cards. The deck of fatigue was too stacked against a Baylor team that lived and died by the 3 in wins over TCU, OU, and UT, but couldn't keep it up in the fourth game in four nights.
Baylor's run ended, but the magnitude of the turnaround Scott Drew's team has managed this season endures. Six weeks ago, nobody expected Baylor to make it past the second round of this tournament, if they made it past the first. Next week, they will certainly make the NCAA Tournament as a 6 or 7 seed, at least, something that seemed inconceivable just a few short weeks ago. Losing tonight to Iowa State, a legitimately good and dangerous team playing in front of what was basically a home crowd in Kansas City, doesn't change any of that. They didn't choke, they didn't get blown out, and they fought every step of the way. There's no such thing as a "good loss," but this wasn't a bad one by any stretch. The Bears are still peaking at exactly the right time, and if you look at the tweets I've included below, you'll see the country knows it.
In the end, Baylor was just too tired to keep the offensive and defensive pressure. They were outrebounded 38-28, shot just 34.8% for 3 (versus 53.3% for ISU), and the key cogs in the middle that have been so good, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, combined for just 15 points. If Baylor is going to lose, that's how, and in looking at the final stats, the result is not at all surprising.
As far as seeding goes, tonight's loss shouldn't push us down any. I've seen various places list us as a 6 or a 7 and will continue to watch as people update their brackets, but I'm guessing a 6 as of this moment. That puts you against an 11 in the first (second) round, 3 in the second (third), putting someone like Syracuse, Iowa State (probably in a different region), Creighton, or Virginia between you and the Sweet Sixteen (according to ESPN's latest bracketology, which has us as a 7). Regardless, let us all remember that the last time Baylor lost in the Big 12 Tournament championship game, we made the Elite 8!
Full box score from this game here.
From the Twitterverse:
It was a tremendous run by Baylor, which has never won Big 12 tournament. Good luck to both teams in NCAA tournament.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 16, 2014
RT to congratulate your Bears on a run to the #Big12MBB title game. Now time for the big dance. #SicEm— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 16, 2014
Fantastic, gutsy run by Baylor thru toughest conf in America. Will be salty NCAA draw. So proud of these coaches & student-athletes. #SicEm— Heath Nielsen (@HeathNielsen) March 16, 2014
Scott Drew doesn't look like the punchline he is portrayed to be as a sideline general. coaching a hell of a game.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) March 16, 2014
Baylor should be rewarded by NCAA selection committee for 10 wins in last 12, reaching title game. Question; How much in terms of seed.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) March 16, 2014
I'll update as more becomes available.