After another missed opportunity, the Texas Longhorns sit firmly on the NCAA bubble. At 9-9 in the Big 12, good for only sixth place, and lacking a true "signature" win, the it is clear the ‘Horns have work to do.
In short, Texas must defeat Iowa State in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday night (Big 12 tournament bracket) to have a legitimate shot at a berth in the Big Dance. Win that one and I think the Longhorns would be in decent shape as one of the final at-large selections. Win that one and then defeat Missouri in Kansas City and then Texas and Rick Barnes can rest easily. However, lose to Iowa State and the time between the final buzzer on Thursday night and the CBS Selection show on Sunday afternoon won't include much shut eye.
All that said, Texas's position cannot be looked at in a vacuum. Meaning that looking solely at the resume of the Longhorns, it is impossible to determine if Texas is an NCAA tournament team or not. It is only by comparison of resumes can the final berths be awarded.
So, even if Texas does loss in the Big 12 quarterfinals, there is still a chance that the Longhorns could be awarded a bid. Not a good chance but a chance, nonetheless.
It's time to start rooting for solid mid-majors to win their conference tournaments and for other mediocre major conference teams to get bounced early in theirs.
Texas has already dodged at least one bullet with Murray State's come from behind victory over Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley championship game. Had the Racers lost, they still would have made the NCAA tournament and an at-large bid, for a team like Texas, would have disappeared.
Your Sunday rooting guide:
Creighton over Illinois State in Missouri Valley championship game. 1 pm, CBS
Creighton is in win or lose but a Illinois State win means three bids from the MVC.
Maryland over Virginia 1 pm, ESPN3
Cavaliers are another team that is probably safely in at this point but losses put them in the discussion with the Texas next weekend.
Arizona State over Arizona 2:30 pm, Fox Sports AZ
Arizona is not in my bracket right now but is in the brackets of many. This would their 13th conference win in the very bad Pac 12.
George Mason over VCU in Colonial semi finals. 3:30 pm, ESPN3
Last year's tournament Cinderella is right there with Texas as one of the last few in or first few out. A loss in the Colonial semifinals won't help their case.
Stanford over Cal 4:30 pm
The Golden Bears would tie Washington for the regular season conference title with a win. However, the Pac 12 is that bad and not even a conference title means a team is safe.
Indiana over Purdue 5 pm, Big Ten Network
Purdue is probably in even with a loss and an early Big 10 tournament loss but you never know.
Virginia Tech over NC State 5 pm, ESPNU
It is usually this time of year with Seth Greenberg embarrasses himself by politicking for a clearly undeserving Hokie squad. This year, however, they are not even on the bubble but NC State is. Go Hokies!