With the Big 12 tournament getting underway tonight, numerous outcomes are possible considering the competitiveness of the conference this season. Amidst the all-out-war that has been the Big 12 this season stands the Texas Longhorns, who many projected to finish near the bottom of the conference. Rick Barnes had led his youthful Longhorns team to a 4th place standing in the conference after a 22-9 record; good enough for Big 12 Coach of the Year honors. But Barnes and this scrappy Texas team aren’t done yet. In fact, they are the sleeper team that the conference needs to watch out for.
For those who don’t remember, Texas started the season 10-1 after knocking off 14th ranked North Carolina on the road. People then started taking notice of the hidden talent Barnes had accumulated in Austin. Even more impressive was the stretch the Horns went on in January, winning seven straight games. This impressive streak included wins over four straight ranked opponents in Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor and Kansas.
That stretch in itself should show the college basketball world that Texas can compete with anybody in the nation on a consistent basis. But there’s more to be impressed by. Texas defeated every team in the Big 12 at least once, except for the very underrated Oklahoma Sooners.
The Horns will be able to avoid the more threatening teams in the Big 12 such as Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State unless they find themselves still playing on Saturday. With the only real threat in the first two rounds for Texas being Oklahoma, the Horns can easily find themselves in the Big 12 championship facing a team they have already beaten.