Bracket Watch: Texas on verge of missing March Madness entirely
A year ago, Texas coach Rick Barnes put a halt to the increasing criticism surrounding he and his recently unimpressive program when his unheralded team finished third in the Big 12 and won an NCAA tournament game.
This year's Longhorns entered the season with far weightier expectations, including a preseason top-10 ranking in the AP and Coaches polls. At first, it appeared they would live up to the hype, starting 10-1 and reaching as high as No. 6 in the country.
Now, however, Texas is mired in an ugly slump that's sent it from the upper quadrant of my projected bracket just a few weeks ago to squarely into bubble territory. The 'Horns, 14-8, have dropped four straight and six of eight to slide all the way down to a No. 11 seed. At 3-6 in the Big 12, they're no longer a certainty to even reach the NCAA tournament.
The good news for Texas from a resumé standpoint is that all of its losses are considered respectable, as none have come against teams outside the RPI top 50. The flip side, unfortunately, is that it's won only once in nine tries against top-50 opponents -- a Jan. 17 victory over West Virginia.
If the 'Horns can get their act together, they'll have plenty of chances to post quality wins in the ultra-deep Big 12. If not, the Barnes hot-seat talk will start anew.
Editor's note: The bracket sets up as East vs. South, Midwest vs. West. It's based on games played through Feb. 5. Projected automatic berths (*) go to the current first-place team in each conference (in cases of first-place ties, the higher-rated RPI team gets the nod).
Selection Sunday is March 15.