The Big 12 Conference is done with Week 6 of the 2021-22 men’s basketball season. Just some of the things that happened last week:
The Big 12 has seven solid berths in the most recent ESPN Bracketology;
Baylor leads a Big 12-heavy AP Top 25, with five teams in the poll and two on the cusp;
The holiday allowed the chance to break down the reasons for Oklahoma State’s struggles;
Oklahoma State’s game with USC is canceled;
The take on Iowa State’s top three performers in non-conference action;
Our takeaways from Texas Tech’s loss to Gonzaga;
Also check out our Big 12 Basketball Tracker for updated men’s and women’s news every day.
That, and so much more, happened in Week 6. Here are our three takeaways.
Scott Drew and 400 Wins
When No. 1 Baylor defeated Oregon on Saturday in Eugene, Scott Drew won his 400th career game.
In the context of college basketball, that isn’t a lot. In fact, if you head to NCAA.com and look at their list of all-time winningest Division I coaches, Drew isn’t listed. In fact, the list stops at 500.
But, Drew is certainly tracking like a Hall-of-Fame coach.
We all know the story. Drew took over a Baylor program that had completely imploded after the murder of Patrick Dennehy teammate Carlton Dotson, the effort by former head coach Dave Bliss to minimize it, and the additional recruiting violations. Drew took over the college basketball equivalent of that dumpster fire GIF that we all love to use on Twitter.
Last April, the Bears won their first national championship in men’s basketball. Drew has done it without a whiff of scandal.
Drew has built a PROGRAM at Baylor, not a team. There’s a difference. You’re seeing it once again. The Bears lost four quality guards from last year’s team and they’re undefeated. Drew has done it with multiple channels of talent — prep recruiting, transfer market and long-term player development. Now, the new arena is coming, slated for a debut in 2024, just another thing for Drew to recruit off of (as if a national title isn’t enough).
Drew is the envy of stability, too. There seems to be no whiff of him wanting to leave. He’s deeply ingrained in the university. I’ve seen him at football games, touring recruits around McLane Stadium and showing them the entire university experience. Some basketball coaches don’t like mixing football and basketball. Drew doesn’t mind it a bit.
And, as for the Hall of Fame and that wins list, well there’s plenty of time for that. Drew just turned 51 years old in October. Most coaches work well into their 60s, if that’s what they want. He’s averaging 20 wins per full season at Baylor. No, wait let’s filter that a bit. Let’s take out those first four seasons when the Bears were under-.500 and Drew was still building the program. Baylor isn’t that program anymore.
Let’s take the last 14 full seasons, starting with 2007-28, when Baylor hit 20 wins for first time under Drew (21-11). In that span, Drew is averaging 24 wins per season.
Let’s say Drew does AT LEAST 22 wins for the next 10 seasons (we’ll split the difference), starting with this season. That should put him at 600 career wins and would put him among the Top 60 winningest Division I coaches of all-time, as of right now.
I think Drew will do better than that. I think Drew will coach longer than that. And I think we’ll start debating his Hall-of-Fame credentials sooner rather than later.
Here Comes COVID-19 (Again)
I was in Lawrence, Kansas, this weekend, to see my alma mater, Stephen F. Austin, take on Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. More on my experience soon.
But almost every time I checked my phone I got an alert about a game being canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. In fact, Oklahoma State canceled its non-conference game with USC due to COVID concerns with the Trojans.
If there’s good news for the Big 12 it’s that, to this point, COVID hasn’t been a big issue. The OSU cancellation is the first I can think of on the men’s side. Plus, conference doesn’t start for two weeks.
But, for conferences where league play is already underway, the stakes are emerging. Take the Big East.
On Saturday the league announced that it was cancelling the DePaul-Creighton game due to COVID issues at DePaul. The Big East didn’t reschedule the game. It CANCELED the game. In fact, because DePaul was the school with the COVID issue, the Blue Demons were assigned a loss in the league standings. Creighton ended up with the win.
That’s the policy in the Big East. If you don’t have enough players due to COVID, then you forfeit the game and you take the loss.
The Big East’s signal is clear — there will be no reshuffling of games this year. No schedule adjustments. Take care of your business or take the loss.
So what will the Big 12 do? Well, their by-laws are pretty clear on the topic, per a release in August of this year:
The Big 12 Conference has set its game threshold policy for the upcoming season. In the event a Conference game is canceled due to a team not having enough student-athletes to compete (due to COVID-19 or for any reason), that team will forfeit and will be credited with a loss in the Conference standings. The opponent will be credited with a win in the Conference standings. Both teams will be deemed to have played the game for purposes of Conference standings only. A forfeit can be declared at any point before a completed contest, and when possible would occur prior to the visiting team commencing travel. Additionally, if both teams are unable to compete, a No Contest would be declared and, if needed, an unbalanced tiebreaker would be utilized to determine Conference championship participants in football or championship seeding in other sports. The Commissioner retains discretion to declare a No Contest if extraordinary circumstances warrant.
Imagine if this rule had been in place last season when Baylor went on its 10-day COVID pause. The Bears would have forfeited three games. Instead, the Big 12 adjusted the entire schedule to try and get as many games in as possible.
It doesn’t appear that will be the case this season. And with a new variant taking hold in the country, teams will put greater emphasis on making sure players, coaches and even fans follow protocols as the Big 12 starts conference play. Because, unlike last season, I don’t see programs telling fans to go home.
Take a Break, Big 12
We’ve reached that point in the schedule where the ‘Big Games’ are done, as far as non-conference goes. That Oklahoma State-USC game would have been the biggest one on the schedule. But, now that it’s canceled, well it’s ‘happy meal’ games until January.
The only remaining game pitting a Big 12 team against a Power 5 team is on Dec. 21 when Kansas goes to Colorado. Now, that’s a quality opponent for KU. The Buffs are 9-3 and it renews another old Big 8 rivalry.
But what’s left of the Big 12 schedule is tune-up games with mid- and low-major schools as the Big 12 attempts to get ready for the league openers on New Year’s Day.
So go have some fun. Have a great holiday season. And get ready for one of the best Big 12 seasons you’re likely to come across in recent memory.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.