It's (11) Texas vs. (6) Cincinnati on Friday for the right to face the winner of (3) Florida State - (14) St Bonaventure.
Join me after the jump for a little Cincy scout and some historical perspective on UT basketball.
We'll have a more exhaustive scouting report on the Bearcats soon, but the quick and dirty analysis is a guard-oriented, athletic team that started the year horribly (including their infamous brawl with Xavier) with an extremely physical post presence in 6-9, 260 pound Yancy Gates. The Bearcats came on late, showed well in the Big East tourney, and are regarded as a dangerous draw. They like to slow tempo, reduce games to dogfights, and count on their physicality to win out. Basically, Cincy is the answer to the question: What if Missouri couldn't shoot and had to play harder on defense? They're more mature and physical than we are, more athletic, don't shoot consistently well, and really only have one interior scoring threat.
I expect a fairly ugly, hard-played game with Cincy getting the early nod based on experience and recent momentum.
More globally, this NCAA bid was about a continuation of sustained - well, if not excellence - pretty damn good-ness at Texas under Rick Barnes.
- Texas' 13th straight 20 win season
- Texas' 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (tied for fourth behind Kansas, Duke, Michigan St)
- The highest sustained level of basketball success in the history of the program
That a 20-13 record and a low seed in the NCAAs are cause for disappointment amongst Longhorn faithful serves to remind us just how much our basketball expectations have been firmly re-calibrated over the last decade plus. The big picture is communicated pretty clearly in Sagarin's All-Time Basketball rankings by decade. It ranks the Top 40 college basketball teams of each decade and the trend for Texas is fairly telling. BTW, Texas is ranked the #47 program of all time.
From a macro perspective - we're in a historical Golden Age. If it doesn't feel like it, I understand. But it's true.
From a micro perspective, expect this year's tournament participation to be brief.