Led by head coach Kim Mulkey, the Baylor Lady Bears went an unprecedented 37-1 last year, en route to their 10th Big 12 championship and their third national title.
Entering the 2019-20 season — with three of five starters and a host of other talented players returning — the question is, can Baylor defend its title and repeat as champs? It’s been a few season since the sport has seen repeat champs, the last to do so being UConn, which won four straight from 2013 to 2016. The last non-UConn team to repeat was Tennessee in 2008.
Despite losing Kalani Brown and Chloe Jackson, Baylor certainly has the talent to pull it off. Returning for the Lady Bears is Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Cox, leading three-point shooter Juicy Landrum, versatile guard DiDi Richards, and key contributors like NaLyssa Smith and Moon Ursin. Baylor will also get a boost from South Carolina transfer Te’a Cooper, an All-SEC talent.
A repeat run for Baylor would start with a good run in the regular season, positioning them for top seeding in the NCAA tournament. Let’s break down the schedule.
- New Hampshire - Nov. 5
The Wildcats went 6-24 last season. So, while they shouldn’t pose much of a threat, this will be the first chance for the new look Lady Bears to set the tone. How will Cooper settle in with her new teammates? The Lady Bears can use their first six games to figure out how lineups might mesh this season.
- Grambling State - Nov. 8
- Houston Baptist - Nov. 14
- USF - Nov. 19
- Lamar - Nov. 21
- Washington State - Nov. 28 (Paradise Jam)
- Indiana - Nov. 29 (Paradise Jam)
The Lady Bears could be tested in their second game at the Paradise Jam. Indiana kept things close with Iowa in the Big Ten tournament last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after upsetting No. 7 Texas. The Hoosiers return leading scorer Ali Patberg.
- South Carolina - Nov. 30 (Paradise Jam)
Cooper will face her former team in this game, which is a rematch of a 2019 Sweet 16 contest. This will be Baylor’s first real test of the season, as Dawn Staley’s squad is armed with talented veterans, a top recruiting class and NCAA tournament aspirations.
- Georgia - Dec. 4
- Arkansas State - Dec. 18
- Morehead State - Dec. 30
- At Oklahoma - Jan. 4
The Sooners were not very good last season, posting an 8-22 record, but this game is important because its the first true road game for Baylor and the Big 12 opener.
- At UConn - Jan. 9
This is quite possibly the toughest regular season game on Baylor’s schedule and a game they could lose. Like Baylor, UConn made the Final Four last season and has an expectation to get back there again. Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are gone, but Crystal Dangerfield returns, as does the superb coaching of Geno Auriemma. Watch this game. It’ll be on ESPN2.
- Oklahoma State - Jan. 12
- At Kansas - Jan. 15
- West Virginia - Jan. 18
The Mountaineers played Baylor close in the regular season Big 12 finale last season, which the Lady Bears escaping with a six-point win. WVU went on to advance to the third round of the WNIT.
- At TCU - Jan. 22
- Texas Tech - Jan. 25
- Iowa State - Jan. 28
This will be a rematch of the Big 12 Championship game from last season. The Cyclones lost Bridget Carleton, but return second-leading scorer and rebounder Kristin Scott.
- At Texas - Jan. 31
Baylor’s first meeting with Texas was close last season, as the Longhorns lost by just six points. Texas went on to the NCAA tournament last season. Each of their top three leading scorers from a season ago are back.
- Kansas - Feb. 5
- At Kansas State - Feb. 8
The Wildcats made the NCAA tournament last season and return leading scorer Peyton Williams.
- TCU - Feb. 12
- At Oklahoma State - Feb. 15
- At Texas Tech - Feb. 18
- Oklahoma - Feb. 22
- At West Virginia - Feb. 24
A second meeting with West Virginia could be a tough game for Baylor, considering it’ll be their fourth game — and third on the road — over a 10-day span. Morgantown is also the longest road trip of the Big 12 season for Baylor, with the Lady Bears going about 1,300 miles one-way.
- Kansas State - Feb. 29
- Texas - March 5
- At Iowa State - March 8
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