For All the Marbles

The NCAA Tournament is often referred to as "for all the marbles". Well, in order for Texas to feel good about getting invited to the marbles tourney, the Longhorns will have to take down Iowa State in Kansas City on Thursday.

Keep in mind, nobody knows exactly where Texas sits. Heading into Thursday's slate of games, Joe Lunardi had Texas as his last team in. A win against a top-three team in the Big 12 would seem to punch the ticket except that nothing happens in a vacuum.

All those other teams up there on the screen are also scrapping for the win, or wins, that would put them over, meaning that Texas might have to do better than beat Iowa State to get in. Sure, a win over the Cyclones would give Texas two wins over a top-three Big 12 team, but those are the only wins Texas had against the league's top four.

Indeed, right now, it's looking like a season of missed opportunities. Because while Texas has played well enough to earn the No. 26 ranking on KenPom (ironically, a better rank than the Iowa State team that Texas needs to upset), that site is based on statistics and efficiencies. So a one-point loss to Kansas is not the same as a 20-point loss to Kansas.

Unfortunately, from what we know about the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, all those losses count the same. So Texas doesn't get a half credit for being a missed foul call away against both Missouri and Kansas State, or for being a J'Covan Brown injury away in the first Iowa State game, nor being close on the final possessions vs. Kansas and in both Baylor games.

And that's why this weekend is so big. At the very least, Texas needs a big win to keep its name in the hunt. And two, well two wins — with the second coming against top-10 squad Missouri, would pretty much sew it up. But for Texas to get to the NCAA Tourney, just coming close won't be good enough.

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