Traditionally, casual college basketball fans can only be bothered to learn one or two facts about the season before mid-February. That usually consists of identifying Duke's most unlikable player and which blueblood is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. This year, the universal knowledge that has permeated its way to the masses is that this season is almost unmatched in chaos.
Something about earning the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll has caused teams to stumble. Michigan State dropped its first game of the year to Kentucky. Evansville then stunned the Wildcats. Duke, Louisville, and Kansas were all struck by the top-ranked kryptonite. Gonzaga was able to maintain control but were recently supplanted by Baylor atop the charts.
This phenomenon has also included teams that rocketed from nowhere into the top five. Both Michigan and Ohio State soared to incredible heights before crashing and burning in subsequent weeks. It's weird, wild stuff. And it leads to the conclusion that this March will be extra mad.
Simply put, putting trust in any team has always proved to be a folly. But Scott Drew's Bears are challenging that narrative. They took their No. 1 ranking into Gainesville Saturday night, embraced the challenge, and dominated Florida, 72-61, to secure their place come tomorrow.
It's entirely possible we're looking at a bonafide good team in a season where no one knows who is good. Baylor was second to San Diego State in NET coming into the weekend and may be king of the hill there now. They have wins at Kansas, Texas Tech. They have wins over Arizona and Butler. Their only loss came way back on Nov. 9. Since then it's been 16 straight victories.
Baylor is getting it done in large part to a stellar effort on the defensive end. They are allowing the fourth-fewest points per game and are sixth in defensive efficiency. This has allowed them to excel even as offensive efficiency barely falls within the top 50.
There's nothing particularly sexy about the Bears, who have four players averaging at least 9.8 points per game. They just get it done.
And this year, that's really saying something. Look, trusting any college hoops side this year has left scar tissue. But Baylor, right now, appears the safest bet to date.