As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 23-10, 11-7 in Big 12
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 109.3 (79th) / 96.5 (36th)
Seed: No. 7 in Midwest
Impact player: Jonathan Holmes, junior forward. 13.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 5.7 block %
The Case For:
Texas secured a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 on the strength of one of the conference’s stingier defenses. The Longhorns blocked 14.3 percent of Big 12 opponents’ two-point field goal attempts and ranked near the top of the conference in effective field goal percentage defense, as well as two-point and three-point field goal percentage defense. You’d be tempted to think that Texas, after losing its top four scorers last offseason, would be a poor offensive team. That’s not entirely true. The Longhorns ranked seventh among Big 12 teams in offensive efficiency during conference play, but they led the league in offensive rebounding percentage (and rank sixth in the country) and get timely scoring from Jonathan Holmes and young backcourt duo Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix. This is a tough team that can lock down opponents and is capable of generating just enough offense to eke out wins.
The Case Against:
After winning seven consecutive games in the middle of January, including four against ranked opponents, Texas lost six of 11 to finish the season with an 11-7 record in league play. In the conference tournament semifinals against Baylor, the Longhorns yielded 1.37 points per possession to Baylor in a 17-point blowout. That result, coupled with a regular season-closing loss at Texas Tech, seemed to reinforce the fact that the momentum Texas generated in January has dissipated. During its recent skid, cracks have begun to show in Texas’ once staunch defense. Since beating Oklahoma State on Feb. 11, the Longhorns have held just two of their nine opponents under one point per possession. Recent evidence suggests the Longhorns aren’t the hard-nosed, stingy group that entered the top 20 of both major polls earlier this season.
SI Prediction: Lose in second round to Arizona StateView complete bracket predictions from SI.com’s panel of experts