Texas A&M Basketball: How far does Billy Kennedy need to go to keep his job?

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 04: Head coach Billy Kennedy of the Texas A
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 04: Head coach Billy Kennedy of the Texas A /

It’s very possible Texas A&M basketball is one-and done in the NCAA Tournament, which could call into question the status of Billy Kennedy as head coach.

It’s official, the men’s Texas A&M basketball team is going dancing. For the second time in Billy Kennedy’s seven years as head coach, the Aggies will participate in March Madness.

They’ve drawn a very tough matchup with Providence, who is being pegged by many to be the toughest 10 seed in the tournament. They just upset Xavier to make the Big East conference tournament final and hung tough with Villanova in an overtime loss. They also split the season series with the Villanova, the Big East champs.

It’s very possible Texas A&M is one-and done, which could call into question the status of Kennedy’s position as head coach.

Watching the Ags has been such a roller coaster ride, both this season and during Kennedy’s tenure.

After taking over for Mark Turgeon and before him Billy Gillispe, who had combined to lead the Aggies to six straight NCAA tournaments and put Texas A&M basketball on the map like never before, Kennedy didn’t make the tournament for his first four seasons.

He finally broke through in the 2015-16 season when, with by fair his best and most experienced team, they made a run to the Sweet 16 that included this ridiculously amazing comeback win. It was also the first time in 30 years the Aggies won at least a share of the regular season conference championship.

They fell to Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners in the tournament in a game that wasn’t competitive in the second half.

The Aggies, despite a solid recruiting class in 2016, didn’t even make the NIT a year ago despite having the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in freshman Robert Williams. They finished 8-10 in conference play and were blown out by 25 in the first round of the SEC tournament.

Kennedy had maybe his best opportunity to outright win the conference championship this season. In non-conference play, they looked every bit ready to do that, rising up to No. 5 in the polls after several impressive victories and a close loss to Arizona in Phoenix.

Offensive futility combined with suspensions and injuries derailed those dreams with an 0-5 start to conference play and falling out of the top 25. Although they did not win a game in the conference tournament, they bounced back enough to convince the committee to give them a place in the NCAA Tournament.

Anyone who watched the Aggies this season knows they vastly underachieved. Their perimeter play has been up and down and too often they’ve lost games late due to lack of situational awareness. That falls on the coaching.

Athletic Director Scott Woodward recently said Kennedy’s job being in jeopardy is “silly” and that he wouldn’t “entertain that question.” Of course, he said the same about Kevin Sumlin last year.

While making the tournament for the second time in three seasons should probably be enough for Texas A&M, which until recently wasn’t a quality basketball program for any extended period of time, it’s hard not to believe Kennedy has underachieved with the talent he brought in.

His recruiting has been strong of late. He had a top 5 class in 2015 and a top 25 class in 2016 and 2017. Other than the run in 2016, the results just haven’t matched up.

There are also greater expectations to live up to given the program’s run of NCAA Tournament appearances under previous head coaches who left for better jobs.

Just making an appearance in the tournament should not be enough for this team. Kennedy needs to beat Providence and then the Ags need to play well against likely third round opponent and defending champion UNC.

Next: Early scouting report on the Providence Friars

Losing to Providence should call Billy Kennedy’s job into question. We could very well see Scott Woodward making another major change if that happens.

Jeff Shull is a Site Expert for the Gig Em Gazette on FanSided. Follow him on Twitter, and be sure to follow the Gig Em Gazette on Facebook and Twitter.