After a week without live basketball games, Rick Barnes' squad is back in action. Tonight in Austin, the 8-1 Texas Longhorns face the 3-6 Texas State Bobcats. We took a brief look at Texas State and its coach Danny Kaspar yesterday.
What are the expectations for the Longhorns going into a game like this? First, Texas is clearly the better team. Second, it is entirely possible -- likely even -- that the Horns will come out flat and underwhelm. After a tight win last Saturday, a full week without games, final exams, and the prospects of upcoming games against North Carolina and Michigan State it is easy to imagine Rick Barnes' squad not being as engaged for a game against Texas State as you would like.
So does this mean I think we should put the Horns on upset watch tonight? Well, no, of course not. But I think we can safely put them on "inconsistent play watch," if some such thing exists.
In terms of relative strengths, Texas State falls somewhere in between UT-Arlington and Houston Baptist. UT-Arlington gave Texas a game, and Texas State could as well, but I wouldn't put money on it -- that said I never gamble.
Texas could play a half or more of sloppy ball, and still coast to a 15 point win against the Bobcats. If the Longhorns are sharp, the margin could become much wider. And if they aren't sharp, we could see a repeat of the UT-Arlington matchup, where Texas won by only three points.
The Bobcats just aren't very good, as I hope I highlighted in the preview. But in case you missed it, here is one thing that I wrote:
Texas State has not yet beaten a team ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 300 this season. The Bobcats' three wins came against Tulane (#302), Northern Kentucky (#320), and Division II Cedarville.
This does not mean that I think the Bobcats are doomed to be awful forever. I really like their recently-hired coach Danny Kaspar; he has a track record of building similar programs into winners. But he needs more than a few months to pull off the rebuild.
In a few years, Texas State will probably be a much more formidable opponent. But tonight, Texas should win this game.