Texas Basketball: Longhorns Still Alive for Potential Tournament Berth
Texas Basketball is once again in the NCAA Tournament discussion after a decisive 67-57 win over a struggling West Virginia team in Austin, Texas. The win boosts Texas to a 17-11 record on the season; effectively giving the Horns an optimistic chance to receive a bid to the Big Dance. From a far away glance, a 17-11 record and the 4th place in the Big 12, may seem ‘tournament worthy’ to many modern fans; but sadly this is not the case for the 2020 Texas Basketball team. When analyzing the season for the Horns thus far, it’s clear that the team ultimately lacks key non-conference wins. This key metric is mainly attributed to Coach Shaka Smart’s cupcake non-conference scheduling, allowing a road win versus Purdue, currently not projected to make the tournament, to headline the non-conference resumé for the men in burnt orange. Unnecessary Big East losses to the likes of Providence and Georgetown, also fringe-tournament teams, directly hurt Shaka Smart’s chances to make the NCAA tournament.
In what has been a down-year for the Big 12, the Longhorns are now 7-8 in conference play with the team’s biggest win coming tonight versus a West Virginia team who has dropped five of its past six games. A recent 29 point loss to unranked Iowa State could also prove to be unforgiving to Shaka Smart who hopes to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years. While Texas may still be considered a ‘bubble’ team to many analysts, it’s evident that the team’s performance thus far, both in conference and out, is simply not enough to earn the horns a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Texas will finish the regular season with games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Given that Texas Tech is certainly a tournament team as of today, a Burnt Orange win against the Red Raiders will surely keep the dream alive for Longhorn fans. A loss to either of the Oklahoma teams may seal the Horn’s fate and send Shaka back to the NIT. The goal for Texas is to win out the regular season and pick up a win in the Big 12 tournament, thus providing Shaka’s team an opportunity to make its final case for a tournament bid against a mighty Kansas or Baylor team.
Texas must get to at least 20 wins and hopefully pick up two or three more quadrant one wins to make the NCAA Tournament. In my opinion Texas will fall short of this task and finish the season with a 19-14 record on its way to another NIT appearance.