With less than one week until Selection Sunday the regular season of college basketball is beginning to draw to a close.
But have no fear, March is here! Which means the best 68 men’s basketball teams are preparing to tip-off off March Madness in 2021.
Conference: Big 12
NCAA Championship Odds: +320
With a 26-4 record in the 2019-20 college basketball season, the Baylor Bears had recently come in at No. 5 on the final AP rankings before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college basketball season and NCAA tournament.
Having proven that their 2019-20 roster is capable of success, the Bears were determined to ‘run it back’ with the same squad in 2020-21. This resulted in Baylor being picked to win their conference in the preseason Big 12 coaches’ poll.
As well as that, prior to the tip-off of their season the Bears were ranked the No. 2 team in the nation on the preseason AP poll.
Having now concluded the regular season of college hoops, Baylor have held onto their No. 2 AP ranking and are preparing to make a deep run at the Big 12 tournament after finishing on top of their conference standings with a 13-1 record against Big 12 rivals (21-1 overall).
The Bears started off their college basketball season with three consecutive victories before three of their next four games were either postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19. However, the halt in play didn’t look to affect Baylor’s on-court performance as the Bears won 13 straight games to improve their record to 17-0.
COVID-19 once again forced Baylor off the court as the Bears played just one game (which they won) between February 2nd and February 27th, with seven of their scheduled matches either postponed or cancelled.
On the 27th of February Baylor returned to the floor to face the Kansas Jayhawks, their biggest rival in the Big 12. The Jayhawks handed Baylor their first loss of the season, defeating the Bears 58-71.
Baylor won their final three games against No. 6 West Virginia, No. 17 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Texas Tech to close out the regular season as the Big 12 regular season champions.
Junior guard Jared Butler has been Baylor’s most productive player this season, averaging a team high 17.1 points per game, a team high 2.1 steals per game and also dishing out 5.0 assists per game.
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 9, 2021
Butler is one of three Bears averaging 10+ points per game. MaCio Teague is averaging 15.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and Davio Mitchell is averaging 13.8 points per game, while also leading the team in assists (5.7 per game).
After a historic 21-1 regular season, Baylor will enter the upcoming Big 12 tournament as the favorite to win their first conference tournament championship. If they are successful, the Bears will enter the 2021 NCAA tournament as the second favorite to win their first national championship in the school’s history.
Following the postponement of the 2020 March Madness tournament, the Baylor Bears opened with odds of +1200 to win the 2021 NCAA championship after concluding the 2020 college basketball season with a 26-4 overall record.
Baylor’s odds drifted as high as +1600 in the offseason, however after being named the No. 2 team in the country on the preseason AP poll, the Bears national championship odds came into +800 prior to their first game.
Although Baylor had three of their first seven games postponed due to the pandemic, the Bears still managed to go on a 17 game winning streak between November 28th and February 27th.
In that time Baylor’s odds to win the 2021 NCAA championship came in from +800 to +310.
After losing their first and only game of the regular season to Kansas on February 27th, the Bears national championship odds drifted back out to +360.
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 3, 2021
However, after winning their final three games of the season and securing their first regular season conference championship since 1950, Baylor settled at +320 to win it all at March Madness, less than one week out from Selection Sunday.
Just two days out from the Big 12 tournament, Baylor are the -175 favorite to win their first Big 12 tournament championship in the school’s history.
*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet.
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Image by: Baylor University