Baylor Bears Coach Scott Drew Tells Charles Barkley They ‘Could Have Been Undefeated’ if Not for COVID

Published 04/17/2021, 4:00 PM EDT
Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew celebrates while cutting the net after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs to win the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


The NCAA Tournament didn’t go as expected, with the Baylor Bears coming out as the unlikely champions. Most of the predictions favored Gonzaga Bulldogs, who had been undefeated until then. The Bears then ended that run with an iconic win. However, at one stage, the Bears were also competing for an undefeated stage.

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Then their entire team got hit with COVID, forcing them to take weeks of break. When they returned, they looked very rusty and ended up losing a few games. In a recent podcast with Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson, Bears coach Scott Drew admitted that they could have gone unbeaten had it not been for their COVID issues. But he had no regrets.

He said, “God’s plan is always the best. You could look at it two ways. One, you don’t have COVID maybe you’re undefeated, maybe you go down now as one of best teams to ever play college basketball. That would be one way, and I definitely like that.

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“The other way is, without COVID, maybe our guys wouldn’t have been as focused and excited to be back playing. Maybe we could have been undefeated. Up to that, no one had come close to us.”

Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears guard Mark Vital (11) and Baylor Bears guard Adam Flagler (10) celebrate on the court against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half during the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Baylor Bears have been the first undefeated champions since 1976?

The Bears lost just two games all season. Once against the Kansas Jayhawks and the second time against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. After winning 17 games in a row, the Bears were forced to cancel their games because of a COVID outbreak.

They returned to action after 20 days and somehow managed a win against Iowa State Cyclones despite being far from their best. But when they faced the Jayhawks in the following game, they lost 58-71. In their fifth game since the Kansas loss, the Bears lost their second game to the Cowboys in the Big 12 conference tournament.

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The first loss was because of fatigue problems. They showed tired legs during the previous win too, but the quality of the opposition wasn’t as good as the Jayhawks. The second loss could have been fatigue, but also momentum. Had they been undefeated until then, they might have won that game too.

This is the biggest what if from the 2020-21 season. A lot of people would bet that the Bears would have become the first undefeated champions since Indiana in 1976, but coach Drew is grateful for their triumph.

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Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears celebrate after beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the national championship game during the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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Aaron Mathew

1547 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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