Prior to Saturday's massacre in Stillwater, I pointed out that Texas had absolutely dominated Keiton Page and Oklahoma State for going on three seasons, so you can understand why I'm terrified of saying anything about tonight's huge match up against the Baylor Bears. I seriously contemplated a reverse jinx post:
Scott Drew is, once again, overachieving in the regular season. Armed with the least talented team in the Big 12, Drew has nevertheless found a way to get this group to an impressive 9-5 mark in conference play, and they almost got to 10 wins on Saturday but narrowly missed the upset in Waco against Kansas State, falling 57-56. I never cease to marvel how a coach can so consistently get so much out of so little talent, but year in and year out, there's Scott Drew and Baylor, knocking on the postseason door with a team that has no business winning any games.
Fortunately, my brilliant colleague Reggieball has treated us to an excellent primer on the Bears personel, so I'll just tiptoe around anything resembling a prediction and just file a quick note on the huge stakes tonight.
Although there would have been nothing illegitimate about Texas getting to 10 conference wins without defeating one of the top four teams in the conference, that number will be a lot more meaningful come Selection Sunday if the Longhorns get there with a win over Baylor or Kansas among the victories. And given how extraordinarily unlikely it is that Texas wins at Allen Fieldhouse in the regular season finale, tonight's game is it, unless the 'Horns have a run in the Big 12 tournament in them.
If Texas does in fact finish 2-1 over its final three regular season games after tonight, and if it doesn't win two or more games in Kansas City, then for the Longhorns tonight's game might well be a play-in match up for the NCAA Tournament. Beat Baylor and Texas can feel good about its chances on Selection Sunday. Lose, and it's time to start busting out the rooting guides for the stretch runs and post-season tournaments in other conferences.
Texas probably can't complain too much if it loses tonight but doesn't hear its name called by the Selection Committee. If we fall short in every opportunity we've had against Top 25 competition, we're at the mercy of the worthiness of other bubble teams, and at the end of the day, while if we didn't get in there would always be arguments that Texas should have been included over Team A, if we did get in there would always be arguments that Team B should have been included over Texas.
Such is life on the NCAA Tournament margins. It's not an experience Texas fans have had to go through since Rick Barnes came to Austin.... and hopefully, with a win tonight, we still may not.