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Baylor Basketball

Yes, Fox Sports: 2021 Baylor was Much Better than 2022 Kansas

April 11, 2022
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Would you rather have $1,000,000 or $500,000? Would it be cooler to walk on the moon or get an ice cream cone? We can only imagine if FOX will unleash other difficult debate questions after asking: Who you got, 2021 Baylor or 2022 Kansas? 

This debate can be difficult. Any national title — save 2014 Connecticut — is an elite team. Winning five games against good to great teams in March and April, and being a high seed creates an impressive resume. 

Comparison requires attacking one side to elevate the other. Maybe slam-dunk campaigns should forego negative advertising. This campaign won't go that route. 

Resume

Baylor’s resume in 2020-2021 is much better than Kansas’ in 2021-2022. The Jayhawks suffered four double-digit defeats, including one to TCU. Baylor lost only two games — and we’ll pause for a moment before turning to COVID — and note Baylor’s only double-digit loss was on Senior Day at Kansas. 

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Baylor’s closest margin of victory in the tournament was 9 points over Arkansas

The Bears had a much better tournament run. Baylor played one game within nine points, which was against KenPom’s No. 18 team, Arkansas. The Jayhawks played three games within seven points.

KU also had a much easier tournament path. Before the Elite Eight, its toughest game was against No. 32 Providence. The Jayhawks won that game by five points. Baylor played top 18 teams from the round of 32 on. 

Baylor also beat the second-highest-rated KenPom team of all time, Gonzaga, by 16 in the title game. KU beat No. 8 seed North Carolina by three. 

Advanced Analytics

While there are some differences year-to-year on KenPom — college basketball as a whole is weaker or stronger some years — Baylor crushed KU enough that those marginal differences shouldn’t matter. 

Baylor finished five full points better on KenPom in ‘21 than Kansas did in '22. On Torvik, Baylor ranks better. Per Evan-Miya, Baylor ranked eight points higher in his metric. 

COVID

Scott Alexander writes a popular blog and focuses on a concept called Steelmanning. It’s the opposite of a strawman, so one tries to create the best version of your opponent’s argument. 

For KU’s case, we’d say: “2021 KU beat Baylor by 13 right before the tournament. 2022 KU is clearly better than 2021 KU, so therefore, KU is better. Plus Remy Martin didn't play a lot of the season, therefore, KU is the best." 

Gray Gillman - SicEm365
BU and KU have split their matchups over the last 2 years

KU fans have forgotten COVID exists. Baylor had eight players suffering from COVID after the Texas game and went on a 21-day pause. It trailed Iowa State, who was winless in the Big 12, by 15 in its first game back. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua wasn’t back in his first action until the trip to KU.

It's funny since Lawrence had a mask mandate until March of 2022 that so many KU fans discount the impact of COVID, but clearly Baylor wasn’t the same team in late February and early March of 2021. It takes a while to get into proper game condition. 

Plus KU just does not lose on Senior Night with 38-straight victories. The Bears also shot poorly that game, and David McCormack had the best non-championship game of his life. In one game samples, goofy things can happen. And on Senior Day in Lawrence, really goofy stuff happens. 

KU was certainly better with Remy Martin, but the Hawks weren't unstoppable. KU trailed Providence at halftime, and they trailed UNC by 15 with him. KU barely beat Texas Tech in Lawrence with him too. And the Jayhawks fell to Dayton with Martin in the lineup. So he's not some panacea that elevated them to unheralded levels. 

Players

Baylor had an unbelievable backcourt. So much so that LJ Cryer was out of the rotation entirely and Adam Flagler served as the No. 4 guard while shooting 43% from three. 

The sport is guard dominant, and nobody had guards like Baylor in 2020-2021. The Bears finished No. 1 in the country in 3-point percentage, and Davion Mitchell won defensive player of the year nationally. Jared Butler was a unanimous First Team All-American and MaCio Teague was the greatest third guard in the history of the sport, highlighted by drilling 10-of-12 threes against Texas Tech’s vaunted defense. 

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Is there a player on either team better than Davion Mitchell?

Mark Vital was a multi-time All-Big 12 defender. He allowed Baylor to front bigs, while a guard could come and throw a double team. Baylor flummoxed Drew Timme with that look, and the Bears could guard screens by just switching everything. KU struggled with stretch bigs, and David McCormack couldn’t guard pick-and-rolls well against floor spacing teams. The Bears would have eaten him alive going smaller. 

Even if someone wants to say, “Ochai Agbaji will be a lottery pick, and Christian Braun might go in the first.” Well, who cares? Mitchell went higher than Agbaji will go and Butler would have been a first round pick if not for his heart and knees. He still went in the draft despite some teams medically disqualifying him.

Meanwhile, Vital plays in the NFL and  Tchamwa Tchatchoua won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year this year despite missing a huge chunk of this season.

Kansas had a great 1-4 (counting Martin), but it dropped off quite a bit. With Matthew Mayer, the Bears were much deeper 1-9 than Kansas. 

Conclusion

Anyone arguing that 2022 Kansas is better than 2021 Baylor is either stupid or a troll. This isn't even a debate. Fox Sports got engagement from dumb KU fans, but anyone who watched both teams knows this isn't close.

Discussion from...

Yes, Fox Sports: 2021 Baylor was Much Better than 2022 Kansas

3,875 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 9 mo ago by historian
historian
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Excellent argument. Not even close.
DanaDane
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I can't believe this was even a question. I'm not even sure KU '22 could go .500 against KU teams from '08 - '21.
LagunaBear
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That team was SO much fun to watch. Such and incredible team! It's like they had one mind on offense and defense. It was the defense that made me think they just might win it all.
imarockstar
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beautiful argument tho
historian
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The defense is the main reason they did win at all.
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
TinFoilHatPreacherBear
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Anyone who watched both teams play knows that last year's BU team was much much better.

Anyone who argues differently is likely a biased homer, a troll, or someone who didn't really watch BU play last year.
Quinton
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Gonzaga 21' beats Ku 22' by 10+ with relative ease. Ku 22' isn't in the conversation outside of ways to garner some interest in the offseason.
historian
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Good point.

Gonzaga was so good last year yet it's easy to forget their dominant season because of their epic loss to Baylor in the final game.
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
imarockstar
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games games
https://1921681001.id/ , https://19216811.cam/.onl/
historian
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What is this?
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
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