Most of us are still in heavy football mode, of course, but the hoops team is just about set to launch it's 2007-08 campaign. Last year's home slate of games left a lot to be desired, but the 'Horns have an improved schedule this season - both at home and away from Austin. Let's walk through the schedule.
11/12 UT-SA (Austin)
11/16 UC Davis (Austin)
11/18 Arkansas-Monticello (Austin)
11/23 New Mexico State (Newark, NJ)
11/23 Tennessee/West Virginia (Newark, NJ)
11/28 (Texas Southern (Austin)
Texas will tune up with three games in Austin before a trip to Newark for the championship round of the Legends Classic. Remember that even if Texas should stumble against UC Davis or Arkansas-Monticello, they'll still advance to play New Mexico State on Friday evening. That game will be a rematch from last year's NCAA Tournament first round, a game Texas won. This year, the Aggies return three starters, but not super sexy head coach Reggie Theus, who left the team for the Sacramento Kings. If the 'Horns lose, they'll face the Tennessee-West Virginia loser; if they win, they'll play for the championship against the TN-WVU winner. The Volunteers are a consensus Top 10 preseason team.
12/02 UCLA (Los Angeles)
12/05 North Texas (Austin)
12/08 Rice (Houston)
12/15 Texas State (Austin)
12/18 Oral Roberts (Austin)
12/22 Michigan State (Auburn Hills, MI)
12/29 Wisconsin (Austin)
The Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Challenge tips off with a dandy, as Texas faces UCLA in Los Angeles, who are once again preseason Pac 10 favorites. It'll be quite the challenge for this young Texas team, but it's the kind of game that invariably helps come tournament time. After a home game against a run-n-gun North Texas team in Austin, Houston area fans will get a chance to see the 'Horns at the Toyota Center. It's not quite the matchup the 'Horns had last year in Houston (LSU), but it'll be a nice visit to a Longhorn friendly city. Note, too, that the South Regional for the 2008 NCAA Championship will be played in Houston, though it's going to be at Reliant Stadium.
Texas gets two soft teams in Austin before a trip to The Palace in Detroit to take on Michigan State. The 'Horns weak spot last season was an inability to bang in the frontcourt with physical teams, so I'll be watching this one closely to see how Pittman, Johnson, Hill, and the other big bodies play. Texas will come back to Austin for a home game against Wisconsin to close out the month. Alando Tucker's gone to graduation, but the Badgers are going to be a solid team again this season.
1/02 TCU (Austin)
1/05 St. Mary's (Austin)
1/12 Missouri (Columbia)
1/19 Colorado (Austin)
1/21 Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
1/26 Texas Tech (Austin)
1/30 Texas A&M (College Station)
This might be Texas' most important month as a team - all four home games are winnable, but the team will be tested with two road contests against South Division foes. I actually think that's a good thing for this team; the 'Horns are likely to be a team which improves consistently over the course of the season. As the team preps for NCAA Tournament play and tries to impress the committee members in February and March, it'll be nice to have games with A&M and Oklahoma State at home instead of on the road. And if the 'Horns steal wins at either or both opponents' courts? Look out.
2/02 Baylor (Austin)
2/06 Oklahoma (Norman)
2/09 Iowa State (Ames)
2/11 Kansas (Austin)
2/16 Baylor (Waco)
2/18 Texas A&M (Austin)
2/23 Oklahoma (Austin)
2/25 Kansas State (Manhattan)
Fans will be most excited about the Big Monday showdown with Kansas in Austin, but it's the three games to close out the month which will be most critical for the team as a whole. If Texas can protect the Erwin center against A&M and OU and find a way to win at Kansas State, they should be sitting on a very strong record heading into the final month. Seeding is generally not something you want to focus on too much, but there are exceptions. With a Regional in Houston and the Final Four in San Antonio, this Texas team would be a tremendously dangerous team if it could manage to play itself up to a top three seed and got placed in Houston. That's a tall order for this group, but it's absolutely doable.
3/01 Texas Tech (Lubbock)
3/04 Nebraska (Austin)
3/09 Oklahoma State (Austin)
3/13-16 Big 12 Tournament (Kansas City)
Again, if Texas were to close out February with three wins, this is a manageable three-game close to the season that could propel Texas to a gaudy record heading into the Big 12 Tournament. We're a long, long way from all this, of course, but it's fun to have this to talk about already.