The University of Texas hasn't missed the NCAA Tournament since 2013, but Coach Shaka Smart's club is really struggling this season and now will be without its best player for the foreseeable future. Might be wise to steer (pun intended) clear of the Longhorns.
Texas dropped to 7-9 and 1-3 in the Big 12 on Wednesday following a 64-61 home loss to TCU. That's notable because the Horned Frogs hadn't won in Austin since Feb. 18, 1987, when both schools were still in the old Southwest Conference. Smart was 183-69 in his first seven years as a head coach, six at Virginia Commonwealth and last season at Texas. His worst record during that time was 20-13.
This year's team might be lucky to go 13-20 as the next week is a monster. On Saturday, UT is a solid underdog on NCAA basketball odds as it hosts No. 10 West Virginia, which just smashed No. 1 Baylor on Tuesday. On Jan. 17, Texas goes to Baylor. Then next on Jan. 21, it's a trip to Kansas, which probably will be ranked No. 1. So one would think UT will be 7-12 and 1-6, respectively, by next Sunday.
Against TCU, guard Kendal Yancy, one of two seniors in Smart's nine-player rotation, missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain and is not expected to play against West Virginia. Yancy averages 6.2 points in 18.5 minutes a game.
The really bad news this week was Smart indefinitely suspending leading scorer Tevin Mack for an unspecified violation of team rules. Mack was also suspended for the Longhorns' season opener. It's not clear what Mack did this time, but he was seen yelling at a teammate on the court following the TCU loss. The sophomore forward is averaging 14.8 points to go along with 4.8 rebounds. Other than Mack, only two players are averaging double-digits in scoring: guard Kerwin Roach Jr. and center Jarrett Allen. UT struggles to score as it is, averaging just 69.8 points per game, 265th nationally.
Texas is 8-7 ATS on NCAA basketball picks entering Saturday's game and 5-10 O/U. I recommend hammering the 'unders' until Mack returns -- if he does.