Baylor men’s basketball earns first-ever No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament
Nine times under head coach Scott Drew, Baylor men’s basketball has heard its name called on Selection Sunday for an NCAA Tournament bid — but for the first time in program history, Baylor will begin March Madness as a No. 1 seed, earning the top slot in the South Region for 2021.
Baylor fans don’t need to be convinced of the Bears’ credentials — and neither, apparently, do national experts — but let’s revisit them anyway. Baylor enters the NCAA tournament as the reigning Big 12 champion with a 22-2 record, including a 9-2 mark against teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field (topped by a victory over fellow No. 1 seed Illinois). Most of those games against tournament teams came in conference play; seven of the Big 12’s 10 teams made the tournament, adding additional heft to the Bears’ conference title. Against that slate, the Bears won more games than anyone else in the Big 12 (despite four cancellations).
Along the way, the Bears picked up a host of honors: Big 12 Coach of the Year for Scott Drew; Big 12 Player of the Year for Jared Butler; Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for Davion Mitchell; all-America selections for Butler, Mitchell and Macio Teague; and All-Big 12 honors for Butler, Mitchell, Teague and Mark Vital.
Now, they set their sights on Indianapolis, where the entire tournament will be played in a bubble environment to protect players amidst COVID-19. Baylor will begin South Region play Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT against 16th-seeded Hartford at Lucas Oil Stadium (TruTV), just a few miles from where Drew attended college at Butler University. With a victory, they’d face either North Carolina or Wisconsin in the round of 32 on Sunday. Others in the Bears’ corner of the bracket include No. 8-ranked Arkansas, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 14 Villanova, No. 20 Texas Tech, No. 20 Purdue, and No. 22 Virginia Tech (plus two teams led by former Baylor assistant coaches: Oral Roberts [Paul Mills] and North Texas [Grant McCasland, BBA ’99]).
After the disappointment of last year’s NCAA Tournament cancellation, the Bears made this season all about J.O.Y., and in a season filled with firsts, they have earned the opportunity to claim the best first of all — an NCAA championship.
Sic ’em, Bears!