By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
No. 4-ranked Baylor men’s basketball hosts No. 3 Kansas this Saturday at the Ferrell Center in a matchup that is arguably the most important game in head coach Scott Drew’s time in Waco.
When Drew arrived in 2003, the men’s basketball program was mired in scandal. Nevertheless, he has taken the team to heights never before seen by Baylor basketball fans.
With an NCAA Tournament bid this season, which is a lock at this point, the Bears will have made the big dance four straight years, a feat that no Baylor men’s basketball team has pulled off before.
However, with two Elite Eights and a Sweet Sixteen under his belt, Drew has seen deep tournament runs. What he hasn’t seen is success against the Big 12’s top dog.
Since 2009-10, around the time the Bears rose to national relevance, Drew has had just two wins over the Jayhawks in 15 tries. Additionally, Baylor has yet to win a Big 12 Championship, with Kansas winning the league every year since 2005.
This season started out promising for Baylor in terms of obtaining the Big 12 title. In the nonconference games, the Bears looked strong, knocking off multiple ranked teams and garnering media attention. To start conference play, they were able to remain undefeated and reach the No. 1 ranking before falling to West Virginia.
However, the race was still on, as the Jayhawks fell in Morgantown, W.Va. as well. The first meeting between Baylor and Kansas happened on Feb. 1 in Lawrence, Kan. Despite a history of losing by a large margin at Kansas, the Bears hung in and almost stole a win, losing by only five points.
The loss dropped Baylor back one spot in the Big 12 standings, and subsequent losses to Kansas State and Texas Tech have the Bears now two games back from the Jayhawks.
The only reasonable way for Baylor to fight its way back into the conversation for best team in the conference is by beating the current best team in the conference.
Yet the motivation for downing the Jayhawks doesn’t just come from a standpoint of conference championships, it comes from a recent history of falling short.
Earlier this year, a five-point loss. In the 2016 season, the Bears fell by eight at the Ferrell Center. In 2015, that margin was just one.
That’s why Saturday’s showdown is such an important one.
The Bears won in Kansas City, Mo., in 2012 and picked up a home win in 2013 despite being an inferior team. Since then, there have been no numbers in the win column against Kansas.
Currently sitting at 22-4, this might be Baylor men’s basketball’s best team ever, and they have a chance to prove it Saturday on the hardwood.
The best team, record wise, in Baylor history went 30-8, knocked off the No. 3-ranked Kansas Jayhawks and made it all the way to the Elite Eight. That was five years ago. Let’s see what this team can do.