Baylor and Texas were supposed to open the Big 12 season against each other, only to have the game postponed by COVID-19.
The No. 2 Bears and No. 6 Longhorns are schedule to meet again on Tuesday, this time with both teams ranked in the top 10 and with the Bears’ undefeated season on the line.
“They have a lot of similarities to our team from the standpoint that it’s two top 10 defenses in the country, two teams that are really good on the glass, two teams that are really good in transition,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
Baylor was No. 2 behind Gonzaga in the preseason AP Top 25 and hasn’t budged as the wins continue to pile up.
The Bears (16-0, 8-0 Big 12) have blown through their season with a series of routs to join Gonzaga and No. 25 Drake as the only undefeated Division I teams. Baylor’s closest game so far was an eight-point win over No. 13 Texas Tech on Jan. 16, and the Bears are coming off a 12-point win over Auburn last week.
Defense has defined their dominance.
Baylor is No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, and is sixth nationally in turnovers forced at 18.5 per game. The Bears are holding teams to 62.4 points per game.
Texas (11-3, 5-2) has two wins over ranked opponents and all three of its losses were to ranked teams — by a combined seven points.
The Longhorns lost by one to No. 9 Oklahoma last week despite having just eight scholarship players and with coach Shaka Smart at home recovering from what he called “significant” COVID-19 symptoms.
Tuesday’s game will be the first between AP top-6 schools at Texas’ Frank Erwin Center since 2003.
“This is what you sign up for when you come to play in this league,” Smart said. “Our guys are excited. They know it’s a heck of a challenge.”
Baylor and Texas won’t be the only top-10 game this week.
On Thursday, No. 7 Ohio State plays at No. 8 Iowa in the first of two meetings this month.
The Buckeyes (14-4, 8-3 Big Ten) are coming off a 17-point win over Michigan State and moved up six spots in this week’s poll to crack the top 10 for the first time this season. The Hawkeyes (12-4, 6-3) dropped a spot in this week’s poll after losing by five to No. 12 Illinois.
Keep an eye on the matchup between Iowa All-American Luka Garza and Ohio State sophomore E.J. Liddell. There could be a few bruises.
SATURDAY FUN DAY
Saturday has a full slate of what should be great games.
Two of the Southeastern Conference’s up-and-coming teams will meet in Columbia, Missouri, when No. 10 Alabama faces No. 18 Missouri.
The Crimson Tide were picked to finish fifth in the SEC, but have been one of the conference’s best teams so far.
Alabama moved into the top 10 for the first time in 14 years last week and capped it by completing their first season sweep of Kentucky since 1989. The Crimson Tide dropped one spot this week after losing to Oklahoma.
Missouri, picked 10th in the SEC, have been ranked the past eight weeks and dropped six spots this week after losing to Auburn.
The big Big Ten game on Saturday will pit No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 12 Illinois.
The Illini are coming off an entertaining five-point win over Iowa. The Badgers fell five spots in this week’s poll after struggling from the perimeter (6 for 25 from 3) in a loss to Penn State.
The Big 12’s marquee game on Saturday will be what should be a bruiser between No. 18 West Virginia and No. 23 Kansas.
The Mountaineers are coming off a five-point loss to No. 22 Florida that dropped them six spots this week.
Kansas reached as high as No. 3 in the AP Top 25, but is trying to find its footing again. The Jayhawks have lost four of five — the latest by 19 to No. 11 Tennessee — and are in danger of having their NCAA-record streak of being ranked end at 231 weeks.
Kansas also has to face rival Kansas State on Tuesday.
Oh, and there’s Duke-North Carolina on Saturday, too. They’re meeting as unranked teams for the first time since 1960.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25