Texas' season continues as 11 seed vs Butler

Texas' season will continue as the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region against No. 6-seeded Butler on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

The Longhorns were one of the first teams announced on CBS' Selection Show Sunday, so Rick Barnes and his erratic Longhorn team didn't have to wait long to know they were going to be a part of March Madness.

Texas faces a team in Butler with a first-year coach in Chris Holtmann that plays very well as a team - led by 6-6 guard Kellen Dunham (16.7 ppg).

But the Bulldogs (22-10) lack size. They don't have a player on the roster taller than 6-foot-9.

Dunham is a tough matchup on the perimeter at 6-6, because he's an excellent 3-point shooter (41.5 percent on the season).

But this is a favorable matchup for Texas, because Dunham is by far the biggest 3-point threat on the team.

Texas, a poor 3-point shooting team (33.9 percent from long range), actually makes more 3s per game (6.2) than Butler (5.8), which hits 35.8 percent of its 3s.

Butler's greatest strengths - its confidence, togetherness and defined roles - might be Texas' greatest weaknesses this season.

Rick Barnes failed to get the Longhorns to reach their potential during the regular season, and, as a result, there's a sense Barnes could be coaching for his job starting Thursday.

The Horns were a bubble team because they were 8-10 in league play and just 3-12 vs the RPI Top 50.

But the selection committee indicated Texas got in because of its strength of schedule (UT is 42 in the RPI rankings, and only suffered one loss outside RPI Top 50 - Stanford, which has an RPI of 58 and appeared to be a tournament team until a late-season collapse).

Butler, which has an RPI of 32, is 6-8 vs the RPI Top 50, including wins over North Carolina, Providence, Georgetown and Xavier as well as a sweep of St. John's - all NCAA tourney teams.

Butler's 8 RPI Top 50 losses came against Villanova (twice), OU, Providence, Georgetown (twice) and Xavier (twice).

If Texas brings its A game, UT point guard Isaiah Taylor should find success driving against Butler and not a lot of size waiting for him at the rim.

The Longhorns are a better defensive team than Butler and simply appear to have too much length inside for Butler. Texas is the No. 1 shot-blocking team in college basketball (7.9 blocks per game) and is No. 6 nationally in rebound margin per game (8.3).

Although Butler crashes the boards like crazy as a team despite being undersized and outrebounds opponents by an average of 6.5 boards per game.

For Texas, as we all know, it will depend on which Longhorns' team shows up. When the experts are saying Texas has the talent to reach the Final Four, but is also capable of flaming out in the first round, it tells you everything you need to know about the Longhorns this season.

Texas probably would have been better off as a No. 12 seed to avoid facing any 1, 2 or 3 seeds before the Sweet 16 if UT catches fire.

With a win Thursday in Pittsburgh against Butler, the Longhorns would likely face No 3 seed Notre Dame, the ACC Tournament champion, which faces 14-seeded Northeastern in the round of 64.

But first things first, let's see what Texas team shows up on Thursday.


1. Fearless play from PG Isaiah Taylor.

When Taylor is confident and on his game, few teams can stay in front of him, and Taylor does a nice job of finding UT's big men for easy baskets.

2. Staying within roles.

If a player like Jonathan Holmes continues to fire away from 3-point range instead of getting down low and playing like a 6-8, 240-pound PF, Texas is kidding itself.

3. Stay loose and relaxed.

This is much easier said than done under Rick Barnes, a notoriously uptight coach, who seems to get even more uptight in the NCAA Tournament.


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