Kim Mulkey wants you at the Ferrell Center on Monday night.
The No. 4 Baylor women wrap up their regular season against Texas at 8 p.m. Monday at the Ferrell Center, and it could very well be a season-defining contest for the Lady Bears.
If Baylor and Texas both win against their respective opponents Saturday, the Lady Bears will own a share of the Big 12 regular season title regardless of the outcome Monday. If they then beat the Longhorns, they’ll clinch the outright title.
Both teams are favorites to win Saturday, so there’s a fairly strong likelihood of this happening, barring an upset Saturday.
“You’re playing for the outright Big 12 championship, you’re playing Texas, it’s on national television — what else do people have to do in Waco on Monday night?” Mulkey said. “There’s no Monday night football, is there? I haven’t checked. There’s not another game being played at Baylor or in Waco. Go buy some tickets. Come watch it.”
Alongside the Big 12 implications, Monday will also serve as senior night for Baylor’s three-player senior class, as well as a “Gold Out” night, in which the first 8,000 fans will receive gold T-shirts prior to the game.
Mulkey wants the Ferrell Center, with a capacity of a little more than 10,000, to run out of T-shirts.
“If we can win one of these next two games, we’re going to celebrate,” she said. “It’ll be a fun time on the floor after the game, cutting down nets and confetti flying. So I hope people will show up. I hope there are 2,000 that don’t get a T-shirt.”
The last time Baylor cracked the 10,000-attendee mark on March 4, 2013 against Kansas State, when 10,627 fans packed the arena for the Lady Bears’ Big 12 finale of the 2012-13 season. That tied a Baylor women’s basketball record.
That game didn’t have near the same implications that Monday could carry. Led by star senior Brittney Griner, Baylor went unbeaten in conference play and had the regular season title wrapped up long before the final game. At 18-0, the Lady Bears finished five games ahead of Iowa State in standings.
Baylor currently sits at 15-1 in the standings, with Texas a game back at 14-2. Here are the scenarios:
If Baylor beats both Kansas State and Texas, the Lady Bears finish 17-1 and win the outright regular season Big 12 title, regardless of what Texas does against TCU on Saturday. If the Longhorns lose to TCU in this scenario, Baylor can clinch the outright title Saturday.
If Baylor beats Kansas State but loses to Texas, the Lady Bears finish 16-2 and can either share the regular season title with Texas if the Longhorns beat TCU on Saturday as the head-to-head record would be 1-1, or still win it outright Saturday if Texas loses to TCU.
If Baylor loses to Kansas State but beats Texas, assuming Texas beats TCU, the Lady Bears finish 16-2 and win the regular season title outright as the Longhorns would fall to 15-3 following the loss. This scenario would make Monday’s game a de facto conference championship, as the two teams would be tied entering the contest.
If Baylor loses to both Kansas State and Texas, the Lady Bears finish 15-3. In that situation, Texas wins the regular season title outright if it beats TCU on Saturday, as it would have a 16-2 record. If the Longhorns lose to TCU, the two teams finish 15-3 and share the regular season title as their head-to-head record would be split at 1-1.
In the case of a tie, Big 12 tournament seeding would be determined by their records against each team in standings, in order from top to bottom. Texas can grab the top seed if Oklahoma State finishes third, as the Longhorns were 2-0 against the Cowgirls and Baylor was 1-1. The Lady Bears claim the top seed if Oklahoma finishes third, as they were 2-0 against the Sooners and Texas was 1-1. Basically, Baylor gets the No. 1 seed if Oklahoma finishes anywhere above Oklahoma State, as that head-to-head record would be counted first.
If your brain hurts, just know this: Baylor controls its own destiny, as it leads the standings and has already defeated Texas once this season.
And while another Big 12 conference title would be six in a row, Mulkey doesn’t see the possibility of winning another any less exciting than the first one the Lady Bears landed in 2005. The seniors would walk away with four straight conference rings, while the freshmen will get their first glimpse of hard work paying off in the Ferrell Center rafters.
“It is not fair to the Kalanis and Beatrices, who are freshmen, to not have the same kind of excitement that the freshmen had when we won our very first one here,” Mulkey said, referring to her first-year centers Kalani Brown and Beatrice Mompremier. “I think that’s the part that frustrates you as a coach, is because people in general become complacent. It’s like being married. There’s a reason the first year is called a honeymoon. Check you out 25-30 years later. You’ve got to keep it spiced up. You’ve got to keep it exciting, and that’s what I try to do. That’s why I want 10,000 in here Monday. That’s why I want to win it, for those kids who have never done it, because it should be exciting for them.”