WVU looking more and more Final Four legit with rout of No. 1 Baylor: Takeaways
Also, before you do something silly, it is by no means time to sell your Baylor stock
Something incredible happened in college basketball on Tuesday night.
People stormed the court after beating Baylor.
I believe that is a first in the history of the sport.
Tenth-ranked West Virginia destroyed the No. 1 Bears, who were playing the first game in program history as the top-ranked team in America. WVU's 89-68 home win marked the third straight Mountaineers victory over Baylor by double digits.
Want some more context on the game and these teams? You got it. Let's dig in. Here are five takeaways from a dominating performance by Bob Huggins' 14-2, nightmare-inducing squad.
1. Baylor is not fraudulent
The unoriginal and drive-by skeptics will look at the "1" next to Baylor's name, see a 21-point margin of defeat, remember Scott Drew coaches the Bears and then will come to the hilariously shallow conclusion that Baylor isn't legit.
This isn't the best team in the country and probably isn't one of the five best teams in the country, but the Bears are good enough to be considered top-10. The Bears didn't build a 15-0 start on cupcakes and NAIA schools. They defeated Oregon and Michigan State and Louisville and Xavier and Iowa State before falling on their faces Tuesday night.
A loss was inevitable. Baylor was a six-point underdog, after all. Losing the way BU did was mildly alarming, but remember, West Virginia's defense strangles you. Baylor was choked to death on Tuesday night.
2. West Virginia's suffocating defense played its best game of the season
Baylor's 29 turnovers were the most in a game for the program in nearly 20 years. That's a testament to how Huggins had Drew's team figured out, sure, but also speaks to how good WVU is. Baylor's previous season-high for turnovers was 16. WVU nearly doubled that.
Given the competition, this was the most impressive defensive effort of the season for WVU. The Mountaineers have had games where they've forced more than 30, even more than 40 turnovers. But none of those teams are as good as Baylor. The Bears had 15 turnovers in the first 13 minutes -- and still weren't out of it.
The separation came in the second half, when WVU hit BU with a 24-7 run and created enough distance to put this game to bed with 10 minutes to go.
3. This is the fourth win in WVU's history over a top-ranked team
The Mountaineers are now 4-8 in their history, and 3-4 at home, when playing the No. 1 team. I wouldn't say this is "historic," but I will say that West Virginia will now rightfully enter into the conversation to being a legitimate Final Four team. Truth is, this team has been a computer darling for the past month, so the talking heads might just be catching up to what the metrics indicated in December. I'll be interested to see how the country reacts to a Mountaineers team that doesn't have a star.
I'll have more on WVU, and its dominant style, on Tuesday.
4. Baylor is not out of the woods
Baylor has an easier opponent but not necessarily a surefire win coming next. The Bears have another road game, this one at Kansas State, which is 13-2 and ranks as a top-30 team at KenPom. So here's the skinny: Baylor is going to probably need to win that game in order to keep ground in the Big 12 race. Kansas is the league favorite and has famously won the conference title 12 years in a row, but if it's going to get any sort of push from Drew's club, it's going to have to come in the form of road wins.
Baylor can keep its reputation in good standing with a bounce-back performance at K-State on Saturday. A win would go a long way, even if it seems like just an OK game from the outside. A loss -- which would be understandable -- would have most people selling their BU stock.
5. Gonzaga is the last unbeaten left
The Bulldogs were ranked 14th in the preseason. They're 15-0 and almost surely going to get to 16-0 because the next game comes at home on Thursday night against Loyola Marymount. After that? Ah, enticing! Saint Mary's-Gonzaga goes down on Saturday. The Gaels are ranked 21st in the country and should be in the NCAA Tournament this year. That sets up as a top-five game this weekend. Gonzaga has never been the final unbeaten team in a season in the history of college basketball. Add another bullet point to Mark Few's impressive resume.
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