The Texas Longhorns enter this year’s March Madness with a legitimate chance at winning the overall title, likely settling in as a two seed when Selection Sunday comes around March 12.
Only seven teams currently rank ahead of them on the oddsboard at DraftKings Sportsbook, where the Longhorns are +2000 to win the NCAA championship.
These Longhorns haven’t taken the traditional route to their position heading into the tournament after Coach Chris Beard was fired on Jan. 5. This firing followed an indefinite suspension he received after his arrest during a domestic violence incident at his residence Dec. 12. The charges against Beard were dropped in mid February.
The Longhorns have been under the direction of Rodney Terry ever since, and he is the acting head coach for the remainder of this season. The unusual journey for this team inspired BetTexas.com to see how past mid-season head coaching changes affected teams performances in the NCAAs. Utilizing College Basketball Reference we compiled all of the in-season head coaching changes since 2000 that resulted in a team making it to the NCAA Tournament that same year.
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Results After Mid-Season Coaching Change
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Coaching Changes Lead to Limited Success
As the chart above shows, it clearly is not a common occurrence with only four prior instances to draw history from.
Coming in as a likely No. 2 seed, Texas is already in better position than its predecessors who came in with an average of a seven seed. Only one occasion in the past has seen the team with the mid-season coaching change advance past the round of 64, so history is not in the Longhorns favor.
The difference for this Texas team is the coach firing was not performance related, and Texas still brings a formidable roster into the madness. Terry has put together a 15-6 record so far since replacing Beard including an 11-5 mark in Big 12 play. For reference, Beard’s record was 29-13, giving Terry the edge in winning percentage.
Despite this, Terry’s future likely depends on Texas’ March performance as athletic director Chris Del Conte has yet to commit to him beyond this year. The Texas job is one of the most coveted in college basketball, and Del Conte could easily attract a big name for the job if he doesn’t move forward with Terry.
Texas has not had much recent success in March, failing to make it to a Sweet 16 since 2008 with only two wins since 2014 in the tournament.
Looking to propel the team forward is fifth-year guard Marcus Carr. Carr is the driving force of the offense and is currently averaging 16.9 points per game. Forward Dylan Disu has also started to come into his own in the past few games and will look to keep his strong play going into the tournament.
With the coaching uncertainty and the presence of strong teams such as Kansas and Baylor in their way, the Longhorns winning this year's March Madness would certainly be an impressive feat.
History shows their mid-season coaching change is a definite negative when it comes to them reaching their goal, but this team has already shown it should be given a better chance to advance than the four previous teams to enter the championship tournament during a season with a coaching change.
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