Baylor began the season as the Big 12 favorite — then began the Big 12 portion of its schedule with three straight losses. It wasn't an ideal start. But Scott Drew's Bears have been mostly excellent since that rough stretch, improving to 12-3 in their past 15 games late Monday with a 74-68 victory at Oklahoma State, which is now the first team out of Jerry Palm's latest projected bracket for the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
"We don't dance around this stuff — we show them the standings, this is where we are, this is what we've done, this is what we have in front of us," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said after his Cowboys lost a fifth straight game that pushed them to the wrong side of the bubble in Palm's Bracketology. "If you're a basketball player, that's what you think about, and you're one of the teams that people are talking about being on the line. That's why I don't pretend that it's not a real thing."
What's also a real thing is Baylor looking like a legitimate national championship contender for the fourth consecutive season, this time largely thanks to a trio of guards as good as, if not better than, any other trio of guards in the sport.
Only two of them played in the victory at Oklahoma State, though.
That's because projected NBA Draft lottery pick Keyonte George was sidelined during Saturday's win over Texas by an ankle injury, which played a role in Baylor closing as an underdog at Oklahoma State. Regardless, the Bears pretty much controlled the game from start to finish. They never trailed for a single second, led by as many as 19 points and got a combined 28 points, eight assists and eight rebounds from George's backcourt mates LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler.
"With Adam and LJ, it makes it easy to sleep at night," Drew said.
Baylor, now in possession of 11 Quadrant-1 wins, is No. 8 in Tuesday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Bears moving up two spots caused Marquette and Gonzaga to be pushed down one spot each, no fault of their own.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Marcus Sasser finished with 22 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 76-57 win at East Carolina. The Cougars' next game is Thursday against Wichita State.||--||33-4|
|Brandon Miller finished with 24 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 86-83 win over Arkansas. The Crimson Tide's next game is Wednesday against Auburn.||--||31-6|
|Dajuan Harris finished with 17 points and six steals in Saturday's 76-74 win over West Virginia. The Jayhawks' next game is Tuesday against Texas Tech.||--||28-8|
|Jamie Jaquez Jr. finished with 17 points and five rebounds in Sunday's 60-56 win at Colorado. The Bruins' next game is Thursday against Arizona State.||--||31-6|
|Braden Smith was 2 of 11 from the field in Saturday's 79-71 loss to Indiana. The Boilermakers' next game is Thursday at Wisconsin.||--||29-6|
|Texas allowed the Bears to shoot 50.0% from the field in Saturday's 81-72 loss at Baylor. The Longhorns' next game is Wednesday at TCU.||--||29-9|
|Markquis Nowell finished with 22 points and eight assists in Saturday's 73-68 win at Oklahoma State. The Wildcats' next game is Wednesday against Oklahoma.||--||26-10|
|LJ Cryer finished with 15 points and three rebounds in Monday's 74-68 win at Oklahoma State. The Bears' next game is Saturday against Iowa State.||2||23-11|
|Kam Jones finished with 22 points and three steals in Saturday's 90-84 win over DePaul. The Golden Eagles' next game is Tuesday at Butler.||1||29-7|
|Drew Timme finished with 19 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 77-68 win over Saint Mary's. The Zags' next game is Wednesday against Chicago State.||1||31-6|
|Arizona allowed the Sun Devils to shoot 53.7% from the field in Saturday's 89-88 loss to Arizona State. The Wildcats' next game is Thursday at USC.||--||28-7|
San Diego St.
|Darrion Trammell finished with 18 points and three assists in Saturday's 73-71 win at New Mexico. The Aztecs' next game is Tuesday at Boise State.||--||32-7|
|Jordan Hawkins finished with 20 points and three steals in Saturday's 95-86 win at St. John's. The Huskies' next game is Wednesday against DePaul.||--||31-8|
|Jalen Hood-Schifino finished with 35 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 79-71 win at Purdue. The Hoosiers' next game is Tuesday against Iowa.||--||23-12|
|Aidan Mahaney was 2 of 10 from the field in Saturday's 77-68 loss at Gonzaga. The Gaels' next game is March 6 in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament.||--||27-8|
|Souley Boum finished with 23 points and three assists in Friday's 82-60 win at Seton Hall. The Musketeers' next game is Wednesday at Providence.||--||27-10|
|Josiah-Jordan James finished with 18 points and two rebounds in Saturday's 85-45 win over South Carolina. The Vols' next game is Tuesday against Arkansas.||--||25-11|
|Boo Buie was 1 of 9 from the field in Sunday's 75-59 loss at Maryland. The Wildcats' next game is Wednesday against Penn State.||--||22-12|
|Miami blew a 25-point lead in Saturday's 85-84 loss to Florida State. The Hurricanes' next game is Saturday against Pitt.||--||29-8|
|Kihei Clark was 3 of 9 from the field in Saturday's 71-63 loss at North Carolina. The Cavaliers' next game is Tuesday against Clemson.||--||25-8|
|Mile Miles Jr. finished with 24 points and two rebounds in Saturday's 83-82 win at Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs' next game is Wednesday against Texas.||--||22-13|
|Tyrece Radford was 0 of 5 from the field in Saturday's 69-62 loss at Mississippi State. The Aggies' next game is Tuesday at Ole Miss.||--||25-10|
|Mark Mitchell finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's 81-65 win over Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils' next game is Tuesday against NC State.||1||27-9|
|Ed Crosswell finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday's 88-68 win at Georgetown. The Friars' next game is Wednesday against Xavier.||1||21-12|
|Jahmir Young finished with 18 points and three rebounds in Sunday's 75-59 win over Northwestern. The Terrapins' next game is Wednesday at Ohio State.||1||22-13|
|D'Moi Hodge finished with 18 points and two assists in Saturday's 85-63 win at Georgia. The Tigers' next game is Wednesday at LSU.||NR||25-10|