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    It’s been a weird one in Austin. On Dec. 12, then-head coach Chris Beard was arrested for domestic violence. He was immediately suspended, then fired on Jan. 5. The Longhorns have been running with Rodney Terry as the interim ever since.

    This would derail a lot of teams’ seasons, but Texas has stayed in the national conversation. It has been a tough close to the regular season, going 5-5 between Jan. 28 and March 1 before cruising by Kansas, 73-59, to conclude the pre-scheduled portion of the campaign. Still, Texas is in a reasonable position to make a run at the national championship and potentially win this thing for the first time in program history.

    Last National Championship: None

    Last Final Four: 2003

    2023 Title Odds: +2000 (as of March 6, 2023)

    Why Texas Will Make a Run

    The Longhorns haven’t been as hot over the last six weeks as they were before, but the Big 12 is a monstrosity of a conference. Even with trading wins and losses for weeks, this team has the sixth-best strength of record in college basketball and 11 wins in Q1 games heading into the conference tournament. Victories over Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor, Creighton, Kansas State, Iowa State, and more prove that Texas can beat anybody in the country, and you need that ability to win a national championship.

    This offense is well spread out. Four players score in double figures, and Texas is 15th in Division I in assists per game (16.6). Even if you limit Marcus Carr’s scoring, you still have to deal with his distribution, and if you put too much emphasis on stopping him from putting the ball in the bucket, it’ll open up space for the guard to find his teammates. It can be a real problem figuring out how to properly defend this Texas attack.

    Why Texas Will Exit Early

    This isn’t the best rebounding team out there. The Longhorns rank near the bottom of the Big 12 in offensive rebounds per game, and they don’t have much height on their roster. Dylan Disu is Texas’s tallest player at 6-foot-9, followed by Dillon Mitchell at 6-foot-8 and Christian Bishop at 6-foot-7. Everyone else is 6-foot-6 and below. A showdown against an opponent with size could present problems.

    Texas committed lots of fouls and gave its opponents plenty of free throws in most of its losses this season. In seven of the team’s eight defeats, the opposition attempted at least 23 free throws. All those easy points added up and left the Longhorns on the wrong side at the final horn. In plenty of contests this year, Texas has been disciplined and not sent the bad guys to the line, but there appears to be a connection between when it doesn’t and when it loses.

    What It’ll Take to Win

    Carr is Texas’s premier player, and to win a national championship, you need your best player to be at his best all tournament long. You can say it’s a cop out for me to state the obvious – that the Longhorns will need the most out of Carr to have a shot at bringing a title back to Austin – but it’s true. Carr takes excellent care of the ball, and his mastery of the rock will be required come tourney time. He has the team’s highest usage rate, has provided the most offensive and defensive win shares, and everything runs through him.

    Otherwise, the Longhorns will have to rally together despite not having a long-term head coach. Reports are indicating that Terry will not keep the position at the end of the season, so the future of Texas men’s basketball remains in question. This uncertainty cannot be allowed to become a distraction for a team that has been forced to play with a revolving door at the helm. It’s a weird spot to be in, but this roster has the talent to challenge for it all anyway.

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