With one month to go until the Big 12 Tournament, No. 2 Baylor has decided it will not opt out of the event protect its NCAA Tournament standing, athletic director Mack Rhoades told CBS Sports. However, the Bears are unlikely to make up all five of their games that were recently postponed due to COVID-19 issues.
"Mathematically, where we are right now, I don't think we'll end up playing all 18 conference games. I don't think that's feasible," Rhoades said.
Baylor postponed two games last week, then announced Monday the postponement of three more games through Feb. 18. At the time, the Big 12 said it would work with Baylor on rescheduling games.
The Bears have not played since Feb. 2 at Texas. Their next five games were all conference games. Baylor is next scheduled to play Feb. 20 at home against Oklahoma State. As it stands, Baylor will have three regular-season games left on the schedule.
Baylor (18-0, 9-0 Big 12) has played only half the league schedule. It is tied with Iowa State for fewest conference games played.
"I think we're probably getting enough compression in the last three or four weeks of the season that it's a real possibility that not all games will be made up," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said while not speaking specifically about Baylor.
Baylor will not intentionally skip the Big 12 Tournament, which will be held from March 10-13 in Kansas City, to keep from further exposure to COVID-19. There has been much national speculation regarding expected high NCAA Tournament seeds skipping league tourney play. Baylor is projected to be a No. 1 seed by CBS Sports expert Jerry Palm.
At this point, all Big 12 teams are committed to play, Bowlsby said.
"If COVID allows us to, [we'll play]," Rhoades said. "Certainly, at this juncture, we assume that we will be fine by then. We want to play. … There's been no conversation like that within our league. The expectation is if you're able to play then you're going to play."
With teams not playing an equal amount of conference games, there have already been discussions on how to decide a Big 12 regular-season champion. Bowlsby said the emphasis is on making sure each team plays at least one of its two games against all nine other conference opponents.
Baylor has yet to play West Virginia. It was scheduled to play the Mountaineers in a reconfigured schedule Feb. 15 and Feb. 18. Those games have been postponed. Baylor currently leads the league by 2.5 games over WVU, which is 7-3 in Big 12 play.
The Big 12 is in the process of consolidating the usual six or seven downtown hotels housing teams to one or two due to COVID-19, Bowlsby said. One idea being considered is a mini bubble that would have basketball teams only in some hotels with no other outside guests allowed.
The first event to be held at Kansas City's T-Mobile Arena since the start of pandemic, Disney on Ice, was canceled last week due to what sources said was a positive test from a performer.
That shouldn't have an impact on the basketball tournament, long considered one of the best conference events in the country. While there hasn't been a final determination, attendance may be capped at 4,000 for the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena.
"We don't have any expectations it will be any higher than that," Bowlsby said.