March Madness

Rick Barnes' Longhorns Fading Down the Stretch. Again?

Welcome to March. The madness can't be far behind.

Been getting into college basketball the last few weeks. Some quick thoughts:

Kansas is the best team I've seen. BYU is more than just Jimmer Fredette. The Big East is the best conference. And, uh oh, Texas is hinting at another bad fall at just the wrong time.

The Longhorns wowed fans and voters by beating Kansas by 11 in Lawrence back on January 22. The Longhorns, led by freshman Tristan Thompson and a suffocating defense, jumped to an 11-0 start in the Big 12 and were poised to become the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

On February 19 they led Nebraska by nine points in what looked like a cruise-control victory. Since then it's been ugly.

ESPN's College GameDay hoops crew will be in Waco Saturday. I'm sure they'll make some of these comparisons.

Despite a furious rally in Lincoln, Texas lost to the Cornhuskers by three. Then last weekend in Boulder they blew a 22-point lead in an ugly loss to Colorado. And last night, Texas allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent in Austin for the first time this season in a 75-70 loss to Kansas State.

Suddenly that's three losses in four games. You can't help but think about last year, when Texas started the season 17-0 and rose to No. 1 but then slumped to a 7-9 finish down the stretch and lost to Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Maybe it's Barnes' style that eventually wears down players. Or maybe it's just a tiny bump in the road that's best to deal with now rather than in two weeks.

Either way, a Texas team that was just a blink ago eyeing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament is now dealing with a dubious deja vu.

Welcome to March.