Last Word On Basketball

Gonzaga Lone Undefeated Team After Baylor Loss

AMES, IA - JANUARY 2: Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears coaches from the bench in the second half of play against the Iowa State Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum on January 2, 2021 in Ames, Iowa. The Baylor Bears won 76-65 over the Iowa State Cyclones. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

Baylor lost at Kansas 71-58 on Saturday, leaving Gonzaga as the last undefeated team in the country. It appeared to be a two-horse race in college basketball for months between Gonzaga and Baylor. The Bears fell to No. 3 in Monday’s AP poll after being passed by Michigan. Baylor now joins the Wolverines as the only other one-loss team.

Gonzaga Remains Unbeaten, Baylor Suffers First Lost

The loss was uncharacteristic not just in the final result, but also in how Baylor shot. The Bears have five rotation players who are all shooting at least 41% on 3-pointers this season. This took a dramatic dip against Kansas when they shot just 23.1%.

The team’s leading scorer, Jared Butler, shoots nearly 50% on 3-pointers, but was 1-7 on 3-point attempts against Kansas, and finished with just five points. Amazingly, Kansas shot even worse from distance, just 18.8%, but were carried by a 20-point performance from David McCormack.

Even if Kansas played the best perimeter defense of anyone in the country, Baylor’s shooting performance is just downright improbable. Head coach Scott Drew cited the team’s COVID-19 pause as a factor for the lackluster performance, telling ESPN, “But even Superman has kryptonite. And I guess COVID protocols is ours.”

This reasoning is backed up by the fact that Baylor had a similarly bad performance against Iowa State in their first game back from the break. Iowa State hasn’t won a Big 12 game, but they led against Baylor for almost all of the game. Baylor ended up winning 77-72.

All credit to Kansas, but this feels like a once-off for Baylor, and they will return to form and be the elite team that they’ve been all season after a few games.

They have very little time to regroup as they go on the road to face No. 6 West Virginia. Baylor has three regular-season games left and they are all against teams ranked in the AP Top 25, so they will need to find their old form quickly.

Gonzaga Continues to Dominate

On the same night that Baylor lost its first game, Gonzaga defeated Loyola Marymount 86-69 to improve their record to 24-0. In a conference where the result is never in question, Gonzaga has been playing against the margins and running up the score. They’ve scored at least 100 on five separate occasions, one of which was against Kansas, the team that just beat Baylor.

While a good 3-point shooting team at 35.5%, they aren’t elite like Baylor’s 43.2%. They don’t have to be a great shooting team though, because they are good at everything.

Either Three Contenders for National Championship Or Just One

For months now it has seemed like it was Gonzaga and Baylor versus the field for the national championship. It seemed like although Gonzaga has been No. 1 in the rankings since the start of the season, Baylor was every bit as good. Now it’s looking more and more like Michigan is part of that elite company

The new No. 2 team in the country has dominated the Big Ten, which is the best conference in the country. They also had a COVID-19 pause of their own but were just as good when they returned as they were before.

One of two things is true. Either Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan are the only three contenders for the national championship, or Gonzaga is so far ahead of the field that they are going to win it without much resistance, even from the other two on this list. Unless Gonzaga suffers a shocking loss in the WCC tournament, we won’t know until two or more of these teams meet in the Final Four.

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