Texas Basketball: Late-February Bracketology update

As it currently stands, Texas basketball is firmly inside the NCAA Tournament cut-line. However, a pivotal five-game stretch to end the regular season looms large.

Feb 10, 2024; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Rodney Terry along with coaches and
Feb 10, 2024; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Rodney Terry along with coaches and / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas basketball notched its 17th win of the season on Monday night when they held off a frisky Kansas State group 62-56 inside the Moody Center. The win saw Max Abmas surpass the 3,000-point mark for his career and moved the Longhorns to 17-9 (6-7), into an 8th-place tie in the Big 12 standings with Oklahoma.

All wins should be celebrated in the Big 12, even home wins over NIT-bound teams. Before the victory on Monday, Texas was just 2-4 in conference play in the Moody Center, a far cry from their 8-1 mark in Austin last season.

Although the six-point win over the Wildcats actually dropped Texas in both KenPom (29 to 31) and the NET (33 to 38), it was crucial that the Horns proved to the committee they could defend their home floor. Plus, they avoided another Quad 3 blemish on the resume, something the folks in College Station can't seem to avoid.

Texas basketball sits firmly inside the bubble with five games left in the regular season. As of the morning of Feb. 21, Bracket Matrix (a website aggregating 108 brackets across the internet) has the Longhorns as the top No. 9 seed (No. 33 overall seed).

Two brackets have the Horns as a No. 6 seed, four as a No. 7, 43 as a No. 8, 43 as a No. 9, 15 as a No. 10, and one (Wayward Trends) in the First Four Out. Removing the outliers, the consensus is that Texas is currently on the 8/9 line.

Texas basketball still has work to do entering the postseason

Despite its current position inside the cut line, Texas still has some work to do if they want to find themselves dancing in March.

The Longhorns end their season with home games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, as well as three Quad 1 road opportunities against Kansas, Texas Tech, and Baylor. KenPom projects Texas will win the two home games and lose the three on the road.

In this instance, the Horns are likely still in the field, likely as a No. 9/10 seed. The wins over Oklahoma State and Oklahoma at home are solid but will probably not enter the Quad 1 sphere. That means Texas would finish with a 4-10 record in Q1 games.

If Texas can hold serve at home AND steal one of those games on the road, it will likely find itself holding steady on the No. 8 line. On the flip side, if the Horns limp down the stretch with a 1-4 finish, it will be a tense trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament.

With the new 14-team format at the Big 12 Tournament, the top four seeds receive a double-bye, and seed No.'s 5-10 receive a single-bye. Texas is just one game ahead of the current No. 11 seed Kansas State. The last thing the Horns need is to play in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, where a likely Quad 3 opponent waits.

February and March are both exciting and tense times for college basketball fans. The beauty of a conference like the Big 12 is that Texas still has an opportunity to finish strong and play its way up the seed list. Conversely, a few slip-ups could see the Longhorns fall out of the field entirely.

This Texas team has been, for lack of a better term, interesting to watch all season.

There have been some terrific highs followed by some demoralizing lows. Nevertheless, on paper, Coach Terry's roster has the look of a team that succeeds in March: a veteran backcourt (Abmas & Hunter), a clear No. 1 option (Disu), the best athlete on the court (Mitchell), and high-energy role players (Cunningham and Weaver). It should be a fun finish to the regular season.

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