By Jakob Brandenburg | Reporter
Baylor men’s basketball is ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and is off to the best start in program history. However, the Bears have lost three of their last five games. At a time like this, it is important to remember that this team hasn’t accomplished anything yet.
The last time a Baylor men’s basketball team won a conference championship of any kind was in 1950. For those of you younger than 67, that was in the old Southwest Conference and occurred 44 years before the Big 12 even existed.
Since that last Baylor title, every other school in the Big 12 has won at least six conference championships in basketball, either in the regular season or by winning the conference tournament.
However, if that is too wide of a scope of history for you, let’s look just at what Baylor basketball has done under coach Scott Drew.
In 2012 and 2014, the Bears played in the conference championship game. In 2010 and 2012, Baylor made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, losing to the eventual national champion both times.
Unless this year’s team at least matches those feats, they will fall short of the expectations the program has created for itself.
What this Baylor team does in the postseason is critical, especially due to the embarrassing round of 64 losses the last two seasons.
In 2015, Baylor won 24 games and was awarded a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were upset in their opening game by 14-seed Georgia State. The next year, the Bears won 22 games and were given a five seed. That ended with another first-round loss, this time to 12-seed Yale.
The 2017 Bears have already won 22 games and earlier this season rose to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history. Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology” projects the Bears will be a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. That all goes down the drain with another early exit during March Madness.
To this Baylor team’s credit, they know they still have work to do. Led by the team’s lone senior, Ish Wainright, the Bears have adopted the mantra “We Still Suck.” It serves to remind the Bears that despite their success, they still haven’t earned national respect and that their team goals, namely conference and national championships, are still ahead of them.
The Bears have five games left on their schedule. They are still in position to end Kansas’ streak of 12 consecutive regular-season Big 12 Championships, and the Bears will have a big say in that when the Jayhawks visit Waco on Saturday.
The Bears have another chance to make their mark at the Big 12 Tournament from March 8-11 in Kansas City. Then the final and most important test comes when the field of 68 teams is set to battle for the national championship.
This team has the potential to not only be the best that Drew has coached, but the best the school has ever had. We’ll see if they can live up to it, or if they’ll just be another footnote in Baylor basketball history.