It was considered almost blasphemous when I suggested to Mitch Levy it wouldn't be an upset if Oakland beat Texas in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Mitch is very highly respected, nationally-known, future-broadcast-hall-of-famer based out of Seattle. You don't know these Longhorns like we do, Mitch (Sorry about your Orange).
It wasn't a surprise when Texas was overrated and slotted a No. 4 seed. It wasn't a surprise when they struggled against Oakland and didn't cover the 9 1/2 points. What was surprising was that they actually had a chance to win against Arizona, a team that cannot lose to Texas.
Many folks have been pointing out that Texas has a 7-13 record over the past three seasons in games decided by five points or less. If we take Barnes' entire body of work with Texas, and factor in a score that reflects more closely what they encountered against Arizona, we reach this fact: Texas is 16-14 under Barnes in games decided by one or two points.
Let's break that down further. Half of those games have been against conference opponents, in which Texas is 10-5. The wins have been against basketball juggernauts like Nebraska, Texas Tech and Kansas State before Kansas State became respectable.
Give Rick Barnes a close game against a non-conference opponent like he faced on Sunday and the record becomes 6-9 lifetime with Texas. Two of those six wins were against a mediocre Providence team and a very weak St. John's team.
When a close game involves Texas, and it's not a conference game, it can no longer be called an upset if they lose. It just can't. I'm not saying that Rick Barnes is a horrible coach, but I do think that he may be the Tony Dungy of NCAA basketball. No offense, Tony.
Dungy had some awesome teams in Tampa Bay before he departed to Indianapolis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had Super-Bowl talent, but they each needed a change to get to the next level. The Bucs needed a new coach and won the Super Bowl. Dungy needed a new team and he won the Super Bowl.
With the amount of talent Barnes has had, coupled with the relatively minor success rate (when compared to other "elite" programs), perhaps a change of scenery would benefit both parties.
Let's consider the talent that has come through Austin over the past twelve seasons. Since the 1999-2000 season, only 18 schools in the NCAA have had at least eight players drafted into the NBA first or second round. Every single school that has had this much talent has either gone on to become the NCAA National Champion or has endured a coaching change or two...all except Texas.
UCLA, Connecticut and North Carolina have all had 14 players drafted by NBA teams since 2000. North Carolina and Connecticut have each won a title or two. UCLA has reached the championship game and has also gone through a coaching change.
Kansas, Duke and Arizona have each had 13 players drafted. Kansas has won a title. Duke has won a couple. Arizona has reached the title game and has also gone through a coaching change.
Florida and Texas have each had 12 players drafted. We all know what Florida has accomplished with the talent they've had in Gainesville, but what has Texas done?
The remaining teams (Memphis, Syracuse, Michigan State, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ohio State, Maryland and USC) have all either won a title or have had a coaching change since 2000. In fact, Georgia Tech and Ohio State have each gone on to the title game.
Texas has had some of the greatest talent college basketball has seen in the past decade, yet hasn't won a title, reached the title game, or experienced a coaching change. Maryland, a team that has had less talent, won the title in 2002. Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Memphis, Syracuse and Michigan State have all had fewer NBA talents, but have either gone on to the title game or have won it all.
And what about Texas' record against the other 17 teams listed above? Since 1999-2000, Texas is 21-31 against teams that have had at least eight NBA-drafted players during that time. Against Arizona, including Sunday: 0-5.
I am looking forward to next season. I already have Texas coming in as a No. 3 seed losing to whatever winner comes out of the No. 6 vs No. 11 matchup in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It's like clockwork. It's a sure thing. Can't miss. Unless they lose to a No. 14 seed in the first round. Would it really be shocking?
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