In college basketball, certain team names carry weight others can only dream of. Duke, North Carolina, UConn, UCLA, Kentucky are all teams that enter games with what can be perceived as a slight advantage when taking into account the nervous excitement, and even fear, that opposing teams feel when seeing a storied program’s name on their opponent’s jerseys. Opposing schools are supposed to tremble at the very thought of playing such a storied program. Kansas is one of those programs.
The 10-time defending Big 12 champions and No. 11 Jayhawks take on the No. 17 Longhorns today at the Erwin Center at 1:06 p.m.
Despite Kansas’ “trembling” factor, head coach Bill Self sees the Longhorns at legitimate contenders for this year’s national crown, even picking the Longhorns No. 1 in the coach’s preseason poll.
“They returned all five starters off a team as talented as any in the league last year. They added a couple recruits expected to be difference makers. Based on rosters, I put them No. 1,” said Self, whose Jayhawks ultimately finished first in the preseason coaches poll.
“They are huge. They go after every ball. They try to block everything,” Self said of the Longhorns. “They’ll play zone. We’ll have to move the ball and make shots. We have to go with the mindset to get in transition and compete on the glass. If not, it’ll be a long afternoon like last year there.”
Self went on to compare Texas to another team in the hunt for this year’s national title, and considered by many to be the current favorite, Kentucky.
“They can put certain lineups out there as tall as Kentucky,” Self said. “They can throw it into tall guys who can turn and score. It’ll be a tough game for us. In our league, all games are tough. You should have to play very well to beat a team of its caliber on the road.”
Though the name “Kansas” is synonymous with college basketball, perhaps it is Texas who are on their way to turning the tide and becoming a name worth trembling over.