Upset Alert: Why the Texas Longhorns Are Not a Long Shot

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Upset Alert: Why the Texas Longhorns Are Not a Long Shot
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When you filled out your NCAA Tournament Bracket this year, I hope you looked ahead at the potential matchups throughout the tournament. If not, then you may be surprised when a team like the No. 7 seeded Texas Longhorns bust your bracket.

Sure, Duke seemingly has all the advantages going into this second-round game Saturday. 

They are playing a mere hour from Cameron Indoor Stadium; so for all intents and purposes, it will be a home game. They have lost just once since Jon Scheyer has taken over at the point-guard position, including an impressive run to the ACC Tournament Championship. 

Even more impressive, Duke only turns the ball over about 12 times a game, even fewer in recent games. So how are the Longhorns going to take down the Dukies from Durham? Oh, let us count the ways.

 

Size

Duke lacks size and overall athleticism to match up with Texas. Duke's two biggest players, 7'1" Brian Zoubek and 6'10" Miles Plumlee, average a combined 18.7 minutes per game and an underwhelming 5.9 points per contest.

Texas has four players standing at least 6'10", with two seeing significant minutes. 

Senior Connor Atchley provides solid post play for the Longhorns and will be able to defend shorter players in the post like 6'8" Lance Thomas. Three hundred pound man-child Dexter Pittman could also prove to be problematic for the Blue Devils inside. 

Forward Gary Johnson is also long and athletic at 6'6".

 

Familiarity

Sure, Rick Barnes spends a lot of time in Texas these days, but this is not unfamiliar territory for him. Born and raised in North Carolina, Barnes played his college ball at Lenoir-Ryhne College in Hickory, about an hour northwest of Charlotte.

While Rick Barnes grew up being exposed to the deep-seated basketball traditions that Duke has provided over the years, he has even more familiarity with the Blue Devils.

Barnes was head coach for the ACC's Clemson Tigers, coaching against Mike Krzyzewski in several games from 1994 to 1998.

 

The Iron Unkind

It's no secret that Duke lives and dies by the three-point shot. Lack of size and numerous good shooters fuel that fire, but all good things must come to an end.

Duke has been on a tear recently, knocking down jumpers from all over the court but with the perimeter defense that Damian James, A.J. Abrams, and Justin Mason can provide it will be more difficult to get open looks.

While Texas has struggled this season to find a true offensive identity at times, their first round game gave a clue of what can happen when A.J. Abrams is firing on all cylinders.

 

If No. 7 Texas beats No. 2 Duke on Saturday, they won't be giant killers, they will just be winners.

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