2015 NCAA Tournament: Keys to a Texas Win


Texas may be an eleven seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, but the Longhorns aren’t your typical low seed you can write off in your bracket.

Or are they?

The problem with Texas is you don’t know which team will show up. The group that battled Baylor and Kansas State to close the season can be a tough out. The team that blew late game leads to Kansas and Iowa State could also make an appearance, breaking Texas fan’s hearts in the waning moments. Heck, we could even see this squad get destroyed by 20 plus points like it did during a stretch in conference play.

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Not knowing which Texas team will take the court tomorrow makes pinpointing the keys to the game difficult. But here are a few obvious things the Longhorns need to do against Butler.

Take high percentage shots

This is not the game to be sitting along the perimeter jacking up threes. Butler is a very good rebounding team. The Bulldogs average 37 rebounds a game, just three behind Texas. Butler is one of the best defensive teams in the country, meaning the Longhorns will have to earn every point. Jonathan Holmes needs to rediscover his inside game and take shots in close where he has a better chance of making the shot, or going to the free throw line.

Take advantage of the size mismatch

Butler’s tallest player is 6-9 forward Kameron Woods. He also weighs 200 pounds. The Texas big men must establish their dominance early. This is the game to get Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner going. Prince Ibeh needs to be on the court to provide that shot-blocking threat. Between Ibeh and Myles, the going will be tough inside for Butler. If Texas can force the Bulldogs to settle for long range jumpers, the Longhorns improve their odds of winning.

Get to the free throw line

The lack of size means Butler’s bring men could get into foul trouble if Texas gets the ball down low. The Longhorns haven’t been a very good free throw shooting team lately, but the NCAA Tournament is a chance for a fresh start. Turner and Holmes are good free throw shooters. Rick Barnes should design plays to get these guys to the free throw line. If Texas can create foul trouble for Butler, it greatly enhances the chances of an upset.

Texas Longhorns
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Texas Longhorns

Win the coaching battle

This should be a forgone conclusion. Barnes is the savvy veteran coach making his 15th tournament appearance in 16 seasons at Texas. He’s taken the Longhorns to the Final Four. Chris Holtmann is, well, who? Give the edge to Barnes, right?

The trouble with that is it would be wrong. Barnes has struggled to get his team to put together a complete game. Not many schools return pretty much the same roster from the year before, add the nation’s second best recruit, and actually regress the next year. But that’s what Texas did. Holtmann, meanwhile, steps in when Brandon Miller had to leave the team due to an illness. All he does is lead the Bulldogs to a second place finish in the Big East. Holtmann may be one of the more unheralded coaches in the country. With all due respect to Holtmann, who succeed when put in a difficult place, Barnes must out-coach his counterpart. If he doesn’t, he may be through at Texas as quickly as the Longhorns are done in 2015 NCAA Tournament.