The Texas Longhorns are 2/3 of the way through conference play, tied with the IBOOOOwa State Cyclones & the Affirmative Consent Bears for 4th place with a 7-5 record. Right now, Texas has roughly a 90% probability of making the NCAA Tournament with 6 games left in the season; 9 conference wins should ensure the Longhorns spend their March experiencing madness instead of the NIT consolation round. The next 6 games will go a long way in determining whether the 'Horns are knocking on the door of a protected seed or shuffling into March Madness with Dengue Fever.
West Virginia Mountaineers (20-5, 9-3, 51% KenPom win probability)
The Huggy Bears are fighting to keep pace with Kansas in the conference standings, and are probably a smidgen more motivated than normal thanks to Texas being the only team this season to win in Morgantown. Isaiah Taylor continuing his mastery of the basketball assist will be key to defending home court.
Baylor Bears (18-7, 7-5, 72% KenPom win probability)
Oh hey, it's another team keen to get revenge on Texas for losing at home. The Bears are sliding away from the front of the pack, having lost 3 of 4 and possibly 4 of 5 if they don't defend their floor against the Cyclones Tuesday. The season could hang in the balance for Baylor, they're staring down the barrel of going 3-7 in their last 10 games. Scott Drew may have to feed Rico Gathers more pregame bathtub crank than normal to motivate the squad.
at Kansas State Wildcats (14-11, 3-9, 46% KenPom win probability)
This game will probably be ugly, as Bruce Weber seems bent on keeping NCAA basketball from looking like anything better than Rebel Wilson's junior high prom photos. He's done everything short of literally taking the air out of the basketball. If Texas has any inkling of contending for the Big 12 conference title - and to be clear, that's a slim hope at this point - this would be a good win to snag.
Oklahoma Sooners (20-4, 8-4, 51% KenPom win probability)
If Texas wants any shot at a 3-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, this 2-game stretch will be circled on Shaka's calendar. Taking care of business against the Kansas States and Oklahoma States gets them in the tournament, but beating top-10 teams is what moves them further up the seedings. This game won't be easy - thank you, Captain Obvious - but it will be vital to Texas improving upon an already solid resume. Also, it's Oklahoma, and they can go straight to Hell.
Kansas Jayhawks (21-4, 9-3, 50% KenPom win probability)
Take the previous paragraph, change the name to Kansas, and that pretty much sums it up. It would be nice for Cameron Ridley to come out of the locker room and repeat what he did to Kansas in Austin last year, but I'm not holding my breath.
Smart says Cam Ridley still hasn't been cleared to put 100% of his weight on his foot. With 3 weeks until B12 tourney, it's getting dicey.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) February 15, 2016
The Jayhawks are a very good, but mortal team on the road. All 3 of their conference losses have happened away from home, and if Texas fans pack Club Erwin as they usually do for KU, an upset could be in the making.
at Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-13, 3-9, 53% KenPom win probability)
There's a good chance the Pokes will have packed it in at this point, as they're probably not even going to make it into the NIT and the crowds have been...sparse at Gallagher Iba. It's entirely possible this will be the last game of Travis Ford's OSU tenure, and I don't see the players getting amped to win one last game for John Edwards' hairpiece.
Texas could go 1-5 or 5-1 in the last 6, and those are the marks that would swing their postseason hopes the most. If I was a betting man - and I'm not, because I had a father who taught me a basic understanding of math and the positive influences of the seriously misunderstood tenets of Scientology which I'd be happy to talk over with all of you at an undisclosed location of my OT VIII's choosing - I would put Texas down for a 4-2 record and a 5 seed, assuming they don't have an abberant result in the Big 12 Tournament. Depending on which of those games turns into 4 wins could very well be the difference between a 3 seed or a 6 seed in the NCAAs. This is decidedly better than what I expected back in November.
(Or parts of January.)