Baylor Basketball, Scott Drew

Baylor basketball has five games against power-six teams in a grueling non-conference slate.

Baylor basketball is coming off a season, with cancellations to what was, a difficult 2020-21 non-conference schedule. The Bears were set to play at Mohegan Sun against Arizona State and potentially Villanova, but was pulled, due to head coach Scott Drew catching COVID-19.

The Bears faced top-5 Illinois but had their regular-season matchup with Gonzaga canceled due to COVID-related issues on the Bulldogs’ part. Baylor caught COVID and was forced to miss out on its Big 12-Big East matchup with Depaul.

However, this year the Bears should have fewer worries about COVID-19 and a schedule just as tough. This list does not include potential matchups in the Paradise Jam.

11. Arkansas Pine-Bluff

UAPB is one of three common opponents the Bears played last season, and lost 99-42 in their matchup on December 21. Shaun Doss Jr. was the Golden Lions’ leading scorer in the game with 25 points and led the team in points on the season but transferred to SIUE during the offseason. This should be a buy game and one Baylor gets in between the Paradise Jam and the Villanova game in early December.

10. Central Arkansas

The other Bears in this matchup were just a little more successful last season, winning five games and only losing to Baylor by 37 points. Central Arkansas return three of their top five scorers from last year and were among the best teams in the Southland in connecting on three-pointers at 36.3 percent. Baylor basketball should roll as they look ahead to the power six matchups.

9. Alcorn State

Troymain Crosby was far and away the best player for Alcorn State, even if he shot 29% from beyond the arc and turned the ball over often. Crosby was efficient from inside the three-point line at 48.3%.

Outside of Crosby, the Braves do not bring a ton to the table and lost 13 games last season and had zero non-conference wins under Landon Bussie. It should be a relatively easy win for the Bears.

8. Incarnate Word

Baylor gets Incarnate Word to begin the 2021-22 season, with the Cardinal’s ninth year as a Division I basketball program. The Carson Cunningham experiment has not lived up to the beginning of Ken Burmeister’s tenure at the DI level with the Cardinals. Cunningham has a record of 23-61 through three seasons.

It is the first matchup between the two teams in each program’s history and one for Baylor to find the right footing. Expect experiments with rotations and certain plays Baylor will be incorporating with the new roster they have. Freshmen like Langston Love and Kendall Brown will get a lot of action, alongside some depth pieces like sophomore Zach Loveday and redshirt freshman Dain Dainja.

7. Northwestern State

Although the schools are separated by 265 miles, it will be just the third meeting between them and the first since 2015. The Demons were a team led by seniors and a pair of freshmen last year. Carvell Teasett and Kendal Coleman should make progressions this year and be the cornerstones for the program in the years to follow. However, Baylor basketball will have its way with Northwestern State to a relatively easy win.

6. Nicholls State

Nicholls State is coming off one of the best seasons in program history, catalyst by one of the best offenses in program history. Even with that, the Colonels lose a ton of production from last year’s 18-7 team. Guard Ty Gordon decided to stay one final season after leading the team in points at 14.6 per game.

The Bears should roll in their second game of the season against a Nicholls State team expecting to play spoiler.

5. Stanford

The first power six team to show up on this list, the Stanford Cardinal are welcomed to the Ferrell Center on November 20, Baylor’s first power six matchup of the season. The Cardinal lost two substantial pieces from last year’s team in Ziaire Williams to the draft and Oscar Da Silva to the professional route in Germany, but do return Jaiden Delaire.

Baylor basketball should not have much of a problem with the Cardinal, especially in Waco, but the Cardinal will bring a challenge the Bears will have yet to see in the 2021-22 season.

4. Arizona State

For two teams that have not played one another since 2012-13, it’s a game Baylor fans have circled on their schedule. Arizona State was vocal in their decision to eliminate Baylor from the 2020 Empire Classic, due to Scott Drew catching COVID-19.

A year later and Baylor gets a second chance in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Sun Devils lost Remy Martin to Kansas and Josh Christopher went to the NBA. Bobby Hurley has not lived up to the expectations he’s had and the recruits he’s landed. It would be an upset if the Bears were to fall in the first round.

3. Oregon

Baylor and Oregon have had a history over the past five years, with Baylor basketball winning two of the three matchups. The Bears and Ducks split the two home-and-home games, before taking a year off and playing again in Waco, where Baylor won 57-47.

After another year off, Baylor travels to Eugene to play an Oregon team, that should be ranked. The Ducks lose three big seniors from last year’s team, but get a gem out of the transfer portal in Oklahoma guard De’Vion Harmon and Will Richardson made a big decision to return to Eugene.

This game should have Baylor fans excited and will know more about the team, especially after coming off of the Villanova game the week before.

2. Alabama

In the last non-conference matchup of the season, Baylor gets Alabama in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. The Bears and Crimson Tide met in 2019, for the Big 12-SEC Challenge, when Baylor was able to beat Avery Johnson-led Alabama. The two programs have history off the court, with Baylor guard Jared Butler once an Alabama commitment, before transferring during the summer and finding a home in Waco.

One of two huge non-conference road games for the Bears, Baylor will be tested with an Alabama team ranked inside the top-15 by many different outlets to begin the season.

The Crimson Tide brings back a ton of starting production, with the only major losses being John Petty and Herb Jones. Five-star guard JD Davison adds into the mix, with some significant playing time from Charles Bediako. Nimari Burnett comes from Texas Tech and Jaden Shackelford was the leading scorer for the Crismon Tide last year. Alabama will be a unique challenge for the Bears.

1. Villanova

One of the best non-conference games in the country next year will reside in Waco, with a rematch from the Sweet 16 this past NCAA Tournament. Baylor has faced Villanova in back-to-back seasons, with the Bears winning both contests on neutral courts.

Baylor will get Villanova in Waco and with fans returning in sports venues, it will be the most anticipated non-conference home game for the Baylor basketball program in recent memory.

Villanova basketball is a consensus preseason top-five team, with one of the best players in the country returning in Collin Gillespie. Alongside Gillespie will be a slew of solid pieces in Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore and Caleb Daniels.

This is expected to be one of the best games in the Big 12 and headlines the BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle.