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A Look at the Texas Bracket

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You gotta believe.

    Minnesota

First spare me the "we can't look past the Gophers" asshattery. I get that. I'm sure Barnes and company get that. Part of the fun this time of year is analyzing the gauntlet. Minnesota is certainly no push over, but our matchup with them is certainly favorable for a few reasons, but none is bigger than tempo. The Gophers will do what Big 10 teams do. They'll run motion offense and try to lock you up defensively.

This bodes well for Texas for one reason. Minny's personnel includes two covers for Dexter Pittman allowing Texas' hoss to stay on the floor because he has someone to play on the defensive end. Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson are players that Dex can handle in the paint, and they won't be able to hurt Texas by pulling Pittman away from the bucket for their own offense or in the screen roll game. If they try to do it using the high ball screen, their stud guard Lawrence Westbrook doesn't possess the skillset necessary to really exploit Texas shooting the basketball if Dex doesn't show, which decreases the guard's ability to turn the corner. That's huge. It means Texas has answers defensively, and when the court is flipped, they can go to work by pounding Dex inside as the Gophers chase AJ Abrams around the arc. Gary Johnson and Damion James will be the best athletes on the floor so they should be able to dominate the baseline and weakside glass.

The key is Texas remaining patient attacking the interior to open things up on the perimeter. You know, just like it's been for the entire year.

    Duke

Okay, keep in mind this is one of the top 8 teams in the country so when I say the matchup is good for Texas remember I'm talking in relative terms. This game is going to boil down to who can impose who's style on the other. Can Texas keep Pittman on the floor chasing Singler or Henderson on the perimeter hedging ballscreens set by Dexter's assignment Lance Thomas? If so, Texas can really bludgeon Duke if they are, wait for it, wait for it.............patient.

On the flipside, if Duke can somehow neutralize Pittman with Thomas, some one man zones and various forms of help, then Duke is fine. If they have to go to Zoubek to counter Texas, then they've traded an athlete for a stiff and it really hurts what they try to do on both ends of the floor.

Where this all gets tricky is Duke's perimeter defense. If they want to use some soft m2m everyone else uses against Texas, then the Devils will be playing a style they aren't comfortable playing. It's a style they had to go to on the road at Wake because they couldn't keep Smith and Teague in front of them. If they do that against Texas, the Horns can compete in the turnover category, which means the Dukies would have to either outrebound the Horns to make up the possession difference, or they'd simply have shoot the ball signficantly better than the Horns. Which is an outcome that is certainly possible if not probable. The point is, Texas has a solid chance in this game. They can compete athletically and Dex Pittman has a cover in Thomas and Zoubek.


Nobody makes me bleed my own blood.

    Villanova

Texas already knows they can beat the Cats after a 9 point win in the Garden earlier in the year. In that game the Horns did a good job of recognizing shooters on the perimeter holding Fisher, Stokes, and Reynolds to 6-21 from the field. They chased this group off of jumpers and funneled them into the teeth of the defense leading to 7 blocks. Balbay and Pittman are bigger contributors than they were back in December so it'll be interesting to see how Villanova counters. I love this matchup if the Horns get that far. The Horns have bodies to throw at Cunningham to wear him down and put fouls on the talented senior frontcourt player. Outside of Cunningham and Pena, the Wildcats are rail thin inside.

    Pitt

Sorry, I got nothing for you. By far the worst matchup Texas would have against a 1 seed. Pull for the an early Pitt upset.

Or come back and mock me if Texas is one and done.

Check out Gerry Hamilton's story on Texas seeding here.

Gerry's a guy that is as dialed into the Texas program as someone not on the Athletic Department payroll can get.