After a strong close to the season, including a runner-up finish in the Big 12 conference tournament, David Pierce and the Longhorns will host the NCAA Regionals at the Dish. How far do you see this Texas team going in the postseason?
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - The ceiling is Omaha but realistic expectations have me thinking this season possibly ends in Greenville at the Super Regionals. So much is riding on how far Pete Hansen and Lucas Gordon can take this team with their pitching. I don’t think that’s a recipe for a deep run but we’ve seen all it takes it for a few timely hits, a couple of strong innings, and all of a sudden you’re in Omaha. The weird part about this team is that you could tell me they don’t make it out of the regionals or they made it to Omaha and I would believe you.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - This is one of the hardest teams to predict, especially given the pitching issues we’ve still seen and the strength of the regional Texas is hosting. I know the highlight of the “Texas will lose in regionals” conversation is highlighting the two-game stint against Air Force earlier in the season. I honestly don’t think you can take that as a salient data point because I would be SHOCKED – or things really went off the rails early – if more than one or two pitchers from those games take the mound in the postseason. Texas knows they have two good starters, so if they can beat Air Force on Friday and the winner of the 2-3 matchup later that day, I think things will go well. This may be a hot take, but I think if they can advance out of the regionals, the top two pitchers are enough to get them out of the supers against the winner of the Greenville Regional.
Abram Orlansky (@waorlansky) - I probably have the least idea what to expect going into a Tournament that I can remember the last few years. While I think the Austin regional in general is fair, I also think it’s hard to overestimate what a disadvantage it is for this particular Texas team to have such a strong 4 seed in Air Force. The classic Texas team — 3 great pitchers and just enough offense — would be fine in this situation but having to throw Pete Hansen on Friday will mean a razor-thin margin for error this weekend. I could absolutely see this team running into trouble against Air Force or falling into the losers’ bracket after the second game, and if that happens I fear they don’t have the arms to climb out of that hole. But the format of a Super Regional would actually be great for Texas so if they get out of Austin, I think Omaha is realistic.
Texas reaches Omaha and the College World Series if _________.
Cameron - The bullpen steps up and the offense stays hot.
Gerald - Like I said before if Texas gets two good starts from the No. 1 and No. 2 pitcher, they’ve got the bats to beat anyone. That lets them rest quite a bit between Friday morning and the Sunday nightcap in the regional. Then, get two good starts against the winner of Greenville and you’re right back in Omaha. That’s a lot of ifs, but it’s very possible.
Abram - They win their first two games this weekend. Which is to say, if Texas manages enough runs against AFA flamethrower Paul Skenes in support of Hansen, and if Lucas Gordon can continue his recent excellent run of form to beat the La Tech/DBU winner. I like Texas’ chances of beating any pitching-depleted team once in two tries to finish the regional.
Forward Dylan Disu is expected to withdraw his name from the NBA draft and return to Texas. He’ll be joined by New Mexico State transfer Jabari Rice and Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter. Have you talked yourself into a deep run for Texas hoops next year?
Cameron - I think so. Tyrese Hunter was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year! His performance in the NCAA Tournament excites me and I believe he’ll take pressure off Marcus Carr and allow Carr to move back to more of a scorer and not a facilitator. Plus, Jabari Rice adds more depth, and don’t forget Dillon Mitchell and the recruiting class Chris Beard brought in. I’m not going to say this is a Final Four team like I did at the beginning of last year but I think the floor is at least a win or two in March.
Gerald - I refuse to do so. I have been hurt too many times. I think that Texas will PROBABLY be better, especially with the addition of multiple ball handlers, which lets Marcus Carr shift to a more natural role for him. I still have doubts about their ability to shoot from three-point range, so we’ll see.
Abram - I’m still not sure how to evaluate these teams with massive roster turnover every year. There’s no question the talent level on paper will be substantially higher than I would have predicted when the 21-22 season ended. But that assumption was based on my Old Way of understanding college sports, from a distant time when the current roster had a significant bearing on the next. I just have no idea how to predict whether Beard will manage to get the most out of this talented group and/or whether they’ll jell as a team. If so, sure—this could be a salty team.
Texas claimed not one, not two, not three, but four national championships in the past week. Is this the best athletic season for Texas sports…ever? What are its biggest competitors?
Cameron - Texas finished 2nd in the Director's Cup in the 2004-05 season that featured the last National Championships for football and baseball. But the Longhorns have won more Natty’s in the past week than they did the whole ‘04-’05 season! Your argument for ‘04 being a better season is that Texas won in two of the more popular sports, including football which possibly had the worst season out of every Texas team this year? That being said, give me the 2021-22 season. Hats off to you, CDC.
Gerald - It seems like Texas has already done enough to clinch the Director’s Cup for this academic year, which makes it one of the two best seasons, IMO. With the women’s and men’s track and field teams sending a collective 25 competitors to the NCAA Championships, Texas could notch at least one more natty in the academic year. There’s a legit chance that Texas ties Stanford’s record of six in an academic year if both of the track teams continue their dominance.
Abram - I come from the glory days of the early 2000s when we just expected Texas to win whatever event in whatever sport at all times. This week got me thinking about the 2002-03 basketball season when both the men’s and women’s teams made the Final Four, for example. That year Texas finished second for the Director’s Cup but they were miles behind first-place Stanford. As I write this, the softball team — whom most experts seemed to think would go two and out in OKC — leads UCLA 7-2 in the 7th inning. So it’s hard to argue, after the incredible spring it has put together, that the UT athletic department has ever had a better school year.