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Like It Or Not, Texas Has An Elite Basketball Team Too

...although I don't know who would like it. We all know that Texas is headed to the BCS National Championship Game. And in an OU season marred by injury after injury, that is a tough one to swallow. 

Get ready to swallow another one too. Texas' basketball team is an elite squad this year. By most available metrics, they rank near the top of the 347 Division 1 basketball teams. Barring injury, they are looking to make a deep run into the tournament.

Have you heard of Adjusted Scoring Margin (ASM)?

If you haven't, here's something you want to mark down when you're filling out your brackets in March. It basically tells you how many more points better a team was against their schedule than an "average team". Here's an explanation from ESPN using 2004 statistics:

Bottom line: Last season, Duke played a slate of opponents who scored 71.9 ppg and allowed 69.0 ppg. Against that schedule, the Blue Devils scored 82.1 ppg (a positive Offensive Quotient of 13.1 ppg, or 82.1 minus 69.0) and allowed 70.2 ppg (a positive Defensive Quotient of 1.7 ppg, or 71.9 minus 70.2). Add the two quotients together, and you get an ASM of 14.8. In other words, Duke was 14.8 points per game better against its schedule than the average team would have been.

Pretty simple, right? It turns out that this mindlessly simple calculation has great predictive power. In 2000, the 5 seeded Florida Gators had the 2nd best ASM in the country and they wound up making it to the National Championship game and losing to the team with the best ASM (Michigan State). If you want to read about ESPN touting the predictive power, click here. I'll just add that George Mason, in 2006, had an ASM of 17th best in the country - so despite being an 11 seed, you could sense they had the potential to be a cinderella.

So where does Texas stand right now? Well, unfortunately you need to be an ESPN Insider to get that information updated on a daily basis, but I can tell you right now they are 2nd in the country, barely behind Syracuse. If you want a slightly different calculation, you can visit this site, which updates things about every week it seems. You're going to want to use the AASM column, which is the adjusted average scoring margin, adjusted for strength of schedule. In that regard, Texas is #1 and by a long shot.

Simply put, the best teams in college basketball tend to win by the largest average margins, and defend and shoot the 2 point FG attempts well, as was detailed in a nice article by Andy Glockner.

Follow the jump for more on this, other elite teams, and whether OU can keep their heads above water in a very competitive Big 12 Conference...

So we see that Texas tends to have some of the largest victory margins, adjusted for schedule, in the country. If we follow Glockner's formula - we need to take a look at some KenPom metrics (click here). You can see that Texas is the 4th best team in the country at both 2-point FG% and 2-point FG% defense. It's pretty safe to say that Texas is one of the elite basketball teams in the country. Taking a look at the schedule portion of that page, we can see that KenPom metrics project Texas to finish at 30-1 and beat OU by 30 in Austin, and 22 in Norman.

Why are you telling me all this? Well, because I think the popular misconception is that Texas is an overrated team that will wind up choking down the stretch. Unfortunately for OU, this seems to be inaccurate. I think Texas is a pretty well rounded team with few flaws. Sure they'll probably lose a few games, but it's likely that they'll wind up winning over 26-27 in the regular season too. One major achilles heel for the Longhorns seems to be free throw shooting.

And take a look at where OU stands in the Big 12 in terms of AASM - 11th, or 2nd worst! The order right now goes Texas (32.23), Kansas (28.50), Kansas State (21.47), Missouri (19.44), Texas A&M (16.99), Texas Tech (12.65), Iowa State (12.30), Oklahoma State (11.77), Baylor (9.76), Nebraska (7.85), Oklahoma (7.21), Colorado (6.18).

Sooners Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ Gonzaga Thu 12/31 9:00 PM CST
Md.-Eastern Shore Mon 01/04 7:00 PM CST
@ Baylor Sat 01/09 5:00 PM CST
Oklahoma St. Mon 01/11 8:00 PM CST
Missouri Sat 01/16 12:00 PM CST

Last 5 Games

UTEP Mon 12/21 L 74 - 89
Northern Colorado Sat 12/19 W 80 - 79
@ Utah Sat 12/12 W 78 - 73
Centenary Wed 12/09 W 86 - 62
Arizona Sun 12/06 W 79 - 62


Pretty awful, and yet, OU has yet to really get a signature win. Their best win so far in terms of KenPom rating was Northern Colorado at home. They still haven't beaten a team with a KenPom ranking higher than #100. Their best win in terms of AASM was Arizona (ranked #92). Look at their next five games. As they are playing right now, they are only good enough to beat Maryland Eastern Shore, and perhaps Oklahoma State.

I have to believe that things will get better with time. The freshmen will learn they aren't playing in high school anymore and that defense and 40 minutes of effort are a must. Hopefully, someone will step up as a leader on the team. The team lacks a leader like they had last year (Taylor Griffin), a consistent superstar (Blake Griffin), and a reliable floor general (Austin Johnson).

So far Willie Warren is playing like he's expecting everything to just go his way without being mentally tough. He's had some really careless fouls that have put him on the bench early and often. Tiny Gallon has a similar problem, and OU really needs those two guys to be on the floor as much as possible. 

Right now, OU stands at 8 victories. The NIT seems to take teams from tough conferences, who have a decent RPI and non-conference schedule, starting around 18-19 wins. Last year they selected Nebraska at 18-12 and Notre Dame from the Big East at an identical record. Occasionally there are some head scratchers like Northwestern at 17-13 last year. Lets just say to be safe that we need 18 wins to be safely in a post-season tournament. Usually you need about 20-21 victories to get into the Big Dance.

The question I ask is, where will OU pick up at least 10 more victories? I'll allow you maybe Colorado and Maryland Eastern Shore as gimmes. Find me 8 more victories in their schedule.

Can they do it? Not the way they're playing right now. And the worst part is that Texas looks to be darn good in basketball too this year.