Texas is Sweet 16 bound for the first time in 15 years, thanks to Dylan Disu’s monster performance. Disu has been on a different level the last month — is he the most important player on Texas now?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - He’s peaking at the right time, so I’m going to go with yes. When things looked like they were slipping away from them against Penn State it was Disu who stopped the bleeding and kept things in Texas’ favor. If he can sustain that kind of performance in their matchup against Xavier, the Longhorns will have a shot to come out victorious.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - He was unconscious in these last two games and I think it was the biggest differentiator for Texas. The way he’s able to play, especially with Xavier bringing their dynamic forward to the table, raises the ceiling for Texas on both ends of the floor and can set the tone for just how deep this run will go.
Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) - Yeah, Disu is the team’s most important player, not only because of the high level that he’s playing at, but because he’s the most capable player of getting into dangerous spots on the court – into space in the lane on the short roll, in the post with his back to the basket, and to the rim in various ways. He’s also the team’s best rebounder and rim protector, which is worth a handful of extra possessions every game.
Xavier’s two wins in the NCAA Tournament have come by an average margin of victory of seven points against the No. 67 team in the NET rankings (Pittsburgh) and the No. 115 team (Kennesaw State). They also feature one of the best offenses in the country and a below-average defense. Is this a good matchup for Texas?
Daniel - It’s an ok matchup I guess you could say. It’s going to be strength against strength with Xavier excelling offensively and Texas’ calling card being on the defensive line end. Something will have to give once the ball is up in the air.
Gerald - Texas is both a better offensive and defensive team than Xavier has played thus far, but that in no way makes it an easy matchup. I think if Texas tries to play an offensive game against Xavier, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment, but as one of the best defensive teams left in the tournament, it makes more sense for Texas to try to slow the game down and keep Xavier from filling up the bucket.
Wescott - I think the previous two wins in the NCAA Tournament indicate that Texas is capable of executing defensively against elite offenses that move the ball well and hit threes. Xavier is definitely a much more balanced team than Penn State and has better size, so those are two significant obstacles for the Longhorns to overcome, but having a defense that is playing as well or better than anyone else in the country, especially compared to the mediocre defense of the Musketeers.
Does Texas finish the season in Dallas? Or will the recent history of short exits in the NCAA Tournament continue?
Daniel - I wouldn’t call a Sweet 16 a short exit if they lose, but if I’m staying true to my bracket I have them losing to Xavier in this matchup. That was a pick that came purely from the gut and I’d be very happy to be wrong about it.
Gerald - Since this is the first time that Texas made the Sweet 16 since I was on campus, I’d hardly call it a short stint. I’ve got Texas in my finals, so I clearly am very convinced that Texas has what it takes to get out of this weekend.
Wescott - BartTorvik.com has Texas with a 63-percent win probability in this game and I think the Horns are good enough to beat the Cougars or the Hurricanes in the Elite Eight, so I’m going to go with my heart here and predict the second Final Four appearance in school history. This team has what it takes to make that magical run.
Vic Schaefer and the Longhorns shockingly exited the NCAA Tournament after a beatdown from Louisville in the second round. Where did it go wrong for the Horns?
Daniel - Seemed to be plenty of blame to go around with how things played out and needless to say just about everyone was caught flat-footed. We have become accustomed to seeing Schaefer’s teams making nice runs in March, so seeing them go out in the fashion they did was disappointing. Schaefer was less than pleased at the podium after the game, so it will be an interesting offseason for the Lady Horns as they look to bounce back from an early tournament exit.
Gerald - There was this weird trend this year of Texas rattling off a good run and then just one stinker and it happened yet again. Vic Schaefer was clearly frustrated after the game and apologized to the fans for the effort and performance. It seems like he was unable to find a way to get max effort from the team every game and it really bit them against an elite team.
Wescott - Injuries definitely played a role, as well as some roster construction and coaching decisions – this group just didn’t shoot well from distance and that’s a huge hindrance. I also wonder if Schaefer caused some of his players, like Shaylee Gonzales, to be reluctant to pull the trigger at times. The biggest flaw, though, and one for which Schaefer took the blame? They just didn’t have the signature toughness of his teams and didn’t have enough of an edge defensively against Louisville.
How’s your bracket looking?
Daniel - I was stung by Arizona going out early, as I had them in the Final Four, but I’m sitting atop the leaderboard in both my pools following the first two Sweet 16 matchups. If UCLA can survive and advance I will be in a solid spot heading into the next slate of games.
Gerald - As is usually the case, I have been let down by Kansas, Baylor, and Shaka Smart. In spite of taking an early hit on Iowa State as well, I’m perfect in the Midwest and I’ve got three of my four finalists left. I’m sitting pretty in my pick-em group, but things could go sideways very quickly.
Wescott - I haven’t filled out a bracket in years and it’s a decision that pays off for me every year because I can just enjoy the games without having any investment in the semi-educated guesses that I made about teams I don’t know much about.