Texas baseball’s NCAA hopes hanging in the balance

David Leffler

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That very well may be the theme of this year’s Texas baseball team, which has struggled mightily with the same issues that plagued the 2012 squad. It comes as no surprise that this team is in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, something that has not happened in 15 years. Make no mistake about it, at 17-13 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12, the Longhorns are not thinking about Omaha and the College World Series. At this point they are simply hoping to get a shot at competing in postseason play. With that in mind, Texas is now in the midst of a make-or-break stretch in which it has no margin for error. Of the teams remaining on the Longhorns’ schedule, only Houston is ranked and four have losing records. While that gives them a relatively easy route through the rest of conference play, it also means that any loss could doom their NCAA tournament chances. If this Texas team hopes to make amends for last season’s letdown and return to baseball’s Big Dance, it will need to rally down the stretch and play well in the Big 12 tournament. Here are some figures that will clue you in on where the Longhorn’s tournament hopes currently stand:

915: The number of games, through last year’s season, that Texas baseball teams have played since the 1998 season. That was the last time this program failed to make the NCAA tournament in consecutive years, a fate the current Longhorns are hoping to avoid. 

64: The number of teams that make the NCAA tournament each year, 30 of which automatically qualify after winning their conference championships. Considering the Longhorns currently rank eighth out of nine teams in the Big 12, it is unlikely they will win their conference and qualify for an automatic tournament bid. As a result, they will probably have to be chosen as one of the 34 teams that receive an at-large bid in order to make the tournament. Keep in mind that last year’s team, which finished 30-22 and third in the Big 12, did not receive one.

9: The number of road games remaining on Texas’ schedule. The Longhorns play three games this weekend in Lawrence, Kan., against a Jayhawks team fresh off an impressive series in which they beat No. 19 Oklahoma State twice. If Texas wants any chance of making the NCAA tournament, it will have to drastically improve on its current 3-7 record away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field

.520: The winning percentage of the Longhorns’ remaining opponents. While this mediocre competition should give Texas a chance to bolster its record, beating up on average teams may not be enough to leapfrog the Longhorns into the postseason, especially since their own winning percentage stands at only .560.