Wednesday night fares to be emotional on so many levels.
TCU’s final game of the 2022-23 season at Schollmaier Arena. Senior Night. Likely star Mike Miles Jr.’s final performance in front of Frog faithful, all against #9 Texas nonetheless. (And - my last time sitting in the TCU Student Section). Tears may be shed.
Tonight, Wednesday, March 1, Texas travels into Fort Worth as Schollmaier’s Senior Night opponents. We know these two teams’ potential - both have a chance to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
If Texas intends to chase down Kansas in the Big 12 title race, it has to win tonight to stay competitive. Yet - it’ll be a tough task, as TCU’s lineup has recently been brought back to (almost) full-strength with the return of Mike Miles Jr., and (almost) Eddie Lampkin. Team chemistry’s improved.
And - Jamie Dixon’s current squad might just be the most skilled and gifted he’s had the pleasure of coaching during his tenure.
We’ve seen it from this team before; the Frogs possess all the necessary elements to advance deep in the NCAA Tournament. Yet TCU’s success will truly depend on its ability to convert shots from beyond the arc consistently, and during must-win consecutive games in the postseason.
Luckily, the Frogs’ offensive performance has significantly improved following Miles’ return from a hyperextended knee. He is, bar-none, the most valuable player in the Big 12. (Think the Kansas City Chiefs losing Patrick Mahomes).
Apart from Miles, Damion Baugh and Emanuel Miller also possess that ability to generate scoring opportunities for themselves (and will be much-needed down the stretch), and Jakobe Coles and Eddie Lampkin (when healthy) have been formidable forces in the interior.
For TCU to level the season series 1-1 though, after losing in Austin 75-66, it will have to restrain the Texas backcourt, all while not allowing too many offensive rebounds.
Although Texas lacks a traditional big man to feed the ball to in the low post, the team boasts numerous athletic forwards who excel at crashing the offensive boards. To limit Texas’ scoring opportunities, the Frogs must focus on preventing Texas from grabbing offensive rebounds, and restrict the Horns to a shot a possession.
I firmly believe the Horned Frogs have the advantage tonight - but this scares me - Texas hasn’t lost consecutive games all season long.
Texas is among the most-balanced teams in the country, owning a spot in the Top 30 of KenPom’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings.
In a challenging circumstance surrounding the firing of former head coach Chris Beard, current Texas interim head coach Rodney Terry has done a fantastic job coaching this team. He should seriously be considered for the full-time position.
Terry has relied on a group of experienced players, including Marcus Carr, Sir’Jabari Rice, and Timmy Allen, who have been consistent performers on both ends of the floor, all while serving as key emotional leaders on the court and within the team’s locker room.
During its previous encounter with TCU earlier in January, Texas faced difficulties in containing TCU’s fast-paced offensive approach. It’s why the Frogs jumped out to an early 18-point lead. Although the Longhorns did manage to stage a second-half comeback and secure the nine-point win, Texas will need to improve its defense significantly if it wants to finish against TCU with a full-season sweep.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, I don’t see it happening. Schollmaier will be loud, energy will be high, and the Frogs will get out on the break early and often, running up an early lead once again.
This time, with revenge on the mind and the aura of Senior Night in the air, TCU won’t let the lead slip away.
Texas is a great offensive team, but recently, the Horns have sometimes looked a bit stagnant, and have relied too much on Marcus Carr to create.
TCU should see some great looks in transition, and I think the Frogs outpace Texas in another shootout. This one will be a bit closer though - it just has to come down to the wire, right? Barstool Sports’ “Storm Chasers” are in attendance, I see some blips on the radar, and sense a storm brewing…
Bring the Class of 2023 home with a win, Frogs.
TCU 76, Texas 73