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Horns Down the Stretch

Ok, the mourning time, after losing back to back games, is over. The A&M loss was expected but the Kansas State loss was not. I truly did not expect the Horns to drop a single home game this season, and to drop one to a mid level conference team was particularly disappointing. So, the Horns have just seven games left in the regular season, four at home and three on the road.

Where are we now and where can we expect to be heading into the Big 12 tournament?

The Horns are currently 16-7 overall and in a tie for third in the conference at 6-3.

Current Resume
The Horns' current resume is not that strong and could certainly still use another win or two over top 50 opponents. Texas' non-conference strength of schedule is weakening with each passing game. While Michigan State, Gonzaga, Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee are all big names, they have also all had disappointing seasons and currently sit on the NCAA bubble. Texas will get plenty of chances to improve their resume dramatically down the stretch, as four of the remaining seven opponents are currently ranked in the RPI top 50.

Current RPI: 55
Currently ranked behind definite bubble teams: Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan State, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Notre Dame, Illinois, Purdue, Providence, Georgia, Xavier, Virginia Commonwealth, Gonzaga, and Georgia Tech.

Current Pomeroy Rating: 37
Currently ranked behind definite bubble teams: Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Georgia, Connecticut, Louisville, and Illinois.

Quality Wins (top 50) : Arkansas and @ Tech

Quality Losses (top 50): Michigan St (neutral), @ Tennessee, @ Oklahoma State, @ Villanova, Kansas State, @ Texas A&M

Bad Losses (outside top 100) : None

Strength of Schedule : 86th toughest

Upcoming Schedule :
(RPI / Pomeroy Rating)
Iowa State (127/124) - should be a solid home victory to get us back on track.
Oklahoma State (21/56) - payback time against a reeling team
@ Baylor (124/ 128) - Austin North could give the Horns their third straight
Texas Tech (41/58) - overmatched Red Raiders rarely play well in Austin
@ Oklahoma (82/15) - dominated them in Austin, but Norman is usually a different story
Texas A&M (12/3) - will have to play a very solid game to earn a split this year
@ Kansas (22/8) - Jayhawks could be playing for Big 12 title, not counting on this one

Pomeroy predicts the Horns will win their next four and then lose their last three to finish 20-10 overall and 10-6 in the Big 12. I'd say finishing 4-3 is probably right. If the defense improves, the Horns could have a chance to win either in Norman or in the rematch with the Aggies at home, but at this point, both should still be projected as losses. In even the most optimistic of scenarios, the Horns go no better than 5-2 the rest of the way to get to 11-5 in conference.

Getting to 11-5 would be huge for two reasons. One, Texas would likely be seeded in the top four in the Big 12 tourney and receive a first round bye. And, second, the Horns could, with a win or two in the Big 12 tournament, vault above the #7 - 10 range that would produce an undesirable second round game, should the Horns win their first one.

Most publications currently have the Horns projected in that #7 - 10 range with and an average of a #9 seed. Obviously, there is work left to be done starting with a home win over the Cyclones this Saturday.

While the Horns are not a bubble team yet, they are not a lock for the NCAA tournament either. The Horns need four more wins to be assured of their ninth straight NCAA tournament berth. Anything less could produce an unfamiliar long wait on Selection Sunday.