Year 1 of the Rodney Terry era has not been as smooth as anyone around the Texas basketball program hoped.
On top of the inauspicious on-court start (14-6, 3-4), Terry's actions following the Longhorns 71-77 home loss to UCF became a national headline. The loud majority of the fanbase disagreed with Terry's handling of the "horns down" incident, though all of that drama can be quieted by putting tallies in the win column.
Coach Terry and the Horns responded after a poor start to conference play with back-to-back wins over No. 9 Baylor and on the road at No. 11 Oklahoma.
Despite a weekend beatdown at the hands of the BYU Cougars, Texas basketball is in a much better position to make the 2024 NCAA Tournament than it was two weeks ago.
Below, I have compiled some of the most well-respected bracketologists' predictions about where Texas lands in their recent tournament projections.
Texas basketball lands as "Last Four In" in three of five brackets
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: Last Four In (as of Jan. 26)
Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Last Four In (as of Jan. 29)
Mike DeCourcy, FOX Sports: No. 10 seed - East Region (as of Jan. 26)
Sonny Giuliano, ClutchPoints: Last Four In (as of Jan. 29)
Dave Ommen, Bracketville: No. 8 seed - South Region (as of Jan. 26)
With six weeks to go in the regular season, the Longhorns find themselves squarely on the bubble.
For Texas basketball fans, this is the first time they have been in the bubble conversation since the 2019-20 season. Even then, the NCAA Tournament was canceled before Selection Sunday, so the Horns did not have to sweat through the bracket reveal.
The good thing for Texas is they have the opportunity to play their way into the tournament. Of the Longhorns' 11 remaining regular season games, seven currently give Texas a chance to notch a Quad 1 win. This is the most remaining Quad 1 opportunities in the country.
On the flip side, all of those Quad 1 games mean Texas has a very difficult schedule down the stretch.
According to ESPN's BPI, Texas has the sixth hardest remaining strength of schedule in college basketball. In fact, the ten hardest remaining schedules in college basketball all belong to Big 12 teams, proving once again how difficult this league is.
Looking at various projection models, it seems fair to believe Texas will go 5-6 in their last 11 games, finishing the season with a 19-12 (8-10) record. ESPN's BPI projects Texas to finish with 7.9 conference wins, and KenPom has the Longhorns with eight, as does TeamRankings.
TeamRankings, which has a comprehensive bracketology model, currently gives Texas a 45 percent chance to go dancing, with No. 11 as their most likely seed number. They have 21 as the critical number for the Horns. That is, if Texas can finish the regular season with 21 wins (7-4 down the stretch), they have more than an 86 percent chance to make the tournament.
Looking ahead, Texas has three consecutive Quad 1 games starting tonight when they welcome No. 4 Houston into the Moody Center, followed by a road trip to Fort Worth and a Tuesday night game against Iowa State.
It is clear Texas needs to finish with at least 19 regular season wins if they want that a viable tournament resume. Suppose the Horns can go 5-1 at home down the stretch; that puts them at 19 wins without factoring in any of their five remaining road games.
Yes, this Texas team has struggled with consistency on both ends of the floor this season, but all hope should not be lost.
With a veteran backcourt featuring Max Abmas and Tyrese Hunter, a big man with proven March success in Dylan Disu, and young role players improving every game like Chendall Weaver, Texas could quickly become a team that no high seed wants to see come March.