The Big XII dropped the men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday. If you’re interested in seeing the full conference schedule, follow that link to the Big XII page. Here, we’ll dive into the portion of the season most likely to make or break Baylor’s season, and we’ll highlight some of the games that will either be significant or simply entertaining in Baylor’s schedule.
The most difficult stretch of the season is definitely…well, it might be difficult to say. In terms of home games versus away games, Baylor’s schedule is remarkably balanced. The Bears won’t have any more than two consecutive road games in conference play. That gives Baylor plenty of opprotunities to bounce back from the tougher road games. On the one hand, if Baylor can manage to win games away from the Ferrell Center, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to notch three and four game win streaks. Give up those home games sandwiched in between road games, though, and things could get ugly.
Balanced though the schedule may look at the moment, the stretch from the end of January into February could cause problems if the Bears can’t defend home court or steal a game or two on the road. In that time, Baylor will play at West Virginia, at Oklahoma, host TCU, and at Texas. Morgantown is always a challenging place to play, and while Oklahoma will likely be down after the Trae Young phenomenon, a road game in the Big XII is never a guaranteed win. TCU should only continue improving under Jamie Dixon, and for all of their shortcomings, Texas and Shaka Smart continue to build infrastructure that, one day, might actually start winning consistently. If Baylor drops three of four games at any point this season, don’t be surprise if it comes in or around this set of games.
Watch These Games
January 12th — Kansas at Baylor
Anytime the Jayhawks come to town, it’s a must-watch affair. Coming towards the beginning of conference play, this game will be a good benchmark to see just how competitive the Bears will be in conference play this season. Given relative talent levels, even a close loss, while frustrating, would be a decent showing.
January 21st — Baylor at West Virginia
Baylor’s games in Morgantown can be disastrous, it’s true, but they often come at important junctures in the season. If nothing else, we can hate watch together as the Bears cough up 29 turnovers. This will likely be the game where Jake Lindsey’s absence is felt the most and where Makai Mason could prove his value as point guard.
February 2nd — TCU at Baylor
The basketball rivalry is beginning to grow as TCU’s talent and coaching level increases. Expect this game to be competitive. If Baylor hopes to be in the upper half of the standings, this game is almost a must-win.
February 19th — Baylor at Iowa State
Baylor has had recent success in Ames, and several of those games have comes down to the wire. It’s always exciting times in Hilton.
February 27th — Texas at Baylor
There’s always the chance it’s going to be a good day when Baylor can beat Texas at, well, anything. Texas isn’t bringing in top-flight talent in this year’s recruiting class, but they will return a lot of experience that should make them a better overall team than the last couple of seasons, even without a super-talent like Mohamed Bamba
March 9th — Baylor at Kansas
This is the final game of the regular season, and there could be a lot at stake for the Bears as they try to make the Tourney after missing out last season. Even if it’s a likely loss, we can always dream of watching Scott Drew’s first win in Lawrence. Maybe this will be the year!
Overall, Baylor’s conference schedule looks to be balanced. As long as the Bears hold home court, they will be able to precent prolonged losing streaks. Theoretically, this year’s roster has versatility and skill, but there are also plenty of new faces in contributing roles. If Drew can’t get his players into rhythm before conference play, it won’t matter how favorable their Big XII schedule is. As the toughest league year after year, Baylor could be in for a difficult year adjusting to the loss of so much experience. If the Bears succeed this season, it will be on the back of Drew’s coaching and with the help of a schedule that rarely puts them in too tight of a spot.