Hoops: Horns Don't Fall Far Despite Setbacks

With almost half of the top 25 losing at least one game last week, Texas slipped only slightly in the latest rankings after its 0-2 road showing to close out the regular season. The Horns are No. 11 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, down just one spot from last week.

Even better news: Texas dropped only one spot in the simulated RPI rankings at collegerpi.com, from No. 10 to No. 11, heading into this weekend's Big 12 Tournament in Dallas. The Horns also remained a No. 3 seed in collegerpi.com's bracket projection (in the East Regional, sent to the subregional in Denver).

OSU jumped to No. 10 in the simulated RPI after its league title clinching victory over UT last Monday and its blowout of the hapless Aggies Saturday. The Cowboys moved up a spot to No. 7 in the AP poll, matching its coaches' poll position. Kansas climbed to within one spot of Texas in the RPI, coming in at No. 12 (up from No. 19 last week) following its nailbiter over Missouri in Columbia Sunday. The Jayhawks also inched up in the polls, moving from No. 21 to No. 18 in the AP and from No. 18 to No. 15 in the coaches' poll, and are the only other Big 12 team in the either poll.

Texas Tech is the next Big 12 team in the simulated RPI rankings way down at No. 33 (but safe territory for an at-large bid). There's nothin' safe about the positions of Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma (see below for their at-large prospects). The Tigers are No. 39, typically good enough for an at-large berth to a major conference team, but Mizzou is just 15-12 and has a bad-with-a-capital-B home loss to Belmont. The Tigers, No. 50 Sooners and No. 53 Buffs probably need at least a couple of wins in the league tourney to get an invite to the Big Dance.

More good news: despite the two-loss week on the court, ESPN.com's weekly Bracketology still has the Horns as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tourney South Regional (sent to the subregional in Kansas City), the third week in a row Texas has taken a three spot. As expected following its Monday win over UT in Stillwater, Big 12 champ Oklahoma State inched one notch closer to a top seed, checking in with a No. 2 seed in the East Regional. Kansas remained as a projected No. 5 seed while Texas Tech's rollercoaster ride continued, this week moving back up the charts to a No. 8 seed. After losses last week to Tech and Kansas, Missouri is holding on by a thread with a No. 12 seed. Both Colorado and Oklahoma are listed as teams just out of the Field of 64.

Texas faces the winner of Thursday's Nebraska-Oklahoma game at 6 p.m. in Dallas at American Airlines Center. Although the Horns still have a high RPI and are a respectable 7-3 in their last 10 games, given their current two-game skid, a first-game exit would be far more damaging than last year's Tech loss. Texas grabbed the No. 1 seed last March despite losing to the Red Raiders, but a loss to the Huskers or Sooners could drop the Horns down a notch to a No. 4 seed. The No. 1 drawback to drawing a No. 4 is, well, No. 1, as in facing a probable match-up with the region's top seed in the Sweet Sixteen. A No. 2 or No. 3 seed puts that potential match-up off till the Regional final.

Note: Please join Clendon Ross for an Inside Texas Big 12 Tournament Texas-NU/OU watch party Friday evening at Lavaca Street Bar at the corner of Fourth and Lavaca in Austin's Warehouse District. A drink special and happy hour munchies will be available.

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