With the release of the latest AP poll, Baylor men’s basketball is sitting at #11. Ranked #16 in the preseason, they have climbed up five spots sitting right outside of the top-10. They are the 2nd highest ranked Big 12 team behind #2 Kansas. Despite losing a close game to Washington in the beginning of the season, Baylor has stormed back to an 8-1 start. They have 3 ranked wins so far including #17 Villanova winning the Myrtle Beach Invitational, #12 Arizona, and #18 Butler.
For some context, Baylor has only beaten 3 ranked teams prior to Big 12 conference play once in the past five years in their 2016-2017 season where the Bears finished 27-8, and #12 in the rankings. The Bears have done that again this season, so fans can only hope that Baylor has that much success or more this year.
Leading the way for the Bears is sophomore guard, Jared Butler, from Lousiana. Butler won the MVP award in the Myrtle Beach invitational, and has continued to play exceptionally well. The 4-star recruit has averaged just over 17 points a game all while shooting 44.4% from three. For comparison, Steph Curry shot 45.4% from three in his NBA MVP season.
Additionally, Baylor has guard, MaCio Teague, averaging 14.8 ppg, and Devonte Bandoo averaging 8.9 ppg while shooting 40.6% from three. Junior, Mark Vital, is continuing to be an excellent utility player and leader making places on the defensive end with over 2 steals a game, and meaningful blocks including a massive one that prevented Butler from taking the lead last week in the final seconds.
Baylor has been playing all this well without an 100% Tristan Clark. Clark is a 4-star forward who missed the season last year with a knee injury, and is currently dealing with a minor foot injury. Once Clark is more healthy, expect this Baylor team to improve as Clark adds a talented rim protector on the defensive side, and another offensive weapon on the offensive side.
With their next games against UT Martin and Jackson State, Baylor has a good chance to be 10-1, and maybe even a top-10 team before Big 12 Conference play that starts in January.
Baylor plays next Monday, December 18th against UT Martin at 9 P.M. CT on ESPNU.