Andy Katz's team of the week? Your Texas Longhorns. Take it away, sir:
We mentioned this last April when we were begging for KD to stay, but let's go ahead and bring it up again now: if ever there were a year for Texas fans to obsess over RPI, rankings, and seeding position, it is this one. Get greedy with me for a moment and assume Texas put together a magical regular season, good enough to earn them, say, a #1 seed. Where oh where might the committee ship Texas for its first two games? Survey says: Little Rock, Arkansas.
And to which region might the committee send this #1 seeded Texas team? I vote for the South Region, wouldn't you? That would be the South Region hosted in Houston, Texas. Just a hop, skip, and a step away from San Antonio, site of this year's Final Four.
If you're scoring at home, that's a mere 1,000 miles Texas would travel total over three weeks. As a point of reference: the Longhorns traveled 2,100 miles to Spokane for their first round match up last year.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves here? Definitely, and perhaps not. On the one hand - duh. It's December 4th, Texas still has games with Michigan State, Wisconsin, and the brutal Big 12 to navigate. And as well as we've played, there are exploitable weaknesses. But as mentioned above, if ever there were a year to pay attention to all the ranking stuff, this is it. No team has more to gain from a #1 seed this year than do the Longhorns.
This should not be underestimated, either. AW and I drove down to San Antonio for Texas' 2003 run to the Final Four and the home court advantage was extreme. Possibly decisive. About 20 percent of the stands were blocked for Connecticut, then Michigan State, while the remaining portion of the stands were filled with screaming burnt orange faithful. That would be the case again this year in Houston and, to a lesser extent, San Antonio.
So, how's it look so far? Quite good, obviously. Texas is ranked #4 in the AP Poll, #5 in the Coaches Poll heading into this week's games. I'm a little surprised Texas didn't jump up even higher, but the 'Horns win over UCLA ddn't conclude until late Sunday evening; the odds are good that quite a few ballots had already been submitted before Sunday's final result.
To conclude, rankings and seeding positions aren't something I generally focus much attention on, but this year is decidedly different. The prize is tangible and well worth focusing on now that Texas has started 7-0. With a neutral floor win over Tennessee and true road win over UCLA, the top seed is officially in play. If we win on 12/22 over Michigan State in Detroit... oh, my. I can't think about it yet.