Why is Texas A&M basketball a bubble team while Texas is a tourney lock?

Quenton Jackson, Texas A&M basketball Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Quenton Jackson, Texas A&M basketball Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas A&M basketball team has been on an absolute tear lately. Following an eight-game losing streak in the middle of the year, the Aggies have finished with ferocity, winning eight of their last nine games. Three of these wins have come against ranked teams — two have come against top-15 teams.

Make no mistake — Texas A&M is the hottest team in college basketball. But will they make the NCAA Tournament?

After a win against No. 15 Arkansas on Saturday, this seems like it should be a simple yes. I mean, the Aggies didn’t just win — they beat the Hogs by 18 points. Unfortunately, college basketball isn’t so simple. On March 13th, A&M fans everywhere will be biting their nails as they watch the selection show.

Why are the Texas Longhorns an NCAA Tournament lock while the Texas A&M basketball team is a bubble team?

This is a fan page talking about college basketball. Sure, Texas basketball has nothing to do with Texas A&M basketball this year, but why shouldn’t I bring this up? If anything, it sheds a light on how flawed college basketball’s evaluation process is.

It’s nearly impossible for Aggie fans to watch their rival Longhorns earn “lock” status for the NCAA Tournament while A&M has an undeniably better resume and might not even be dancing this year. Here are some interesting numbers between the two teams.

Texas Longhorns:

  • 21-11, 10-9 Big 12
  • 3-8 vs. Ranked Opp.
  • Best Win: Home vs. No. 6 Kansas
  • Last Nine: 4-5

Texas A&M Aggies:

  • 23-11, 12-9 SEC
  • 3-4 vs. Ranked Opp.
  • Best Win: Neutral vs. No. 4 Auburn
  • Last Nine: 8-1

Before you accuse me of cherry-picking stats, you’re absolutely right — I’ve chosen numbers that specifically make Texas A&M look better than Texas. But guess what? It wasn’t that hard. In fact, it would be more difficult to find any numbers that show the Longhorns as the better team — they’re virtually nonexistent.

When you’re looking at factors that the NCAA Tournament selection committee looks at, every figure on that list is among the most important. Overall record, conference record, recent success, and top wins are arguably the four most important pillars in the selection process.

So why does Texas have a guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament while Texas A&M will be biting their nails throughout the entire selection process on Sunday? The unfortunate answer points to advanced statistics, which lean heavily on results built on previous seasons and have no respect for defensive efficiency.

In KenPom rankings, Texas lands at 15th while the Aggies sit at 42nd. NET rankings see Texas at 16 and the Aggies at 51. Make it make sense.

To give you a perspective on how ridiculous these rankings are, the Texas Longhorns lost three consecutive games and jumped two spots in the NCAA’s NET rankings. People will try to rationalize it but it’s flat-out ridiculous.

Highlights of Quenton Jackson's POTW award. dark. Next

It’s unlikely that a win in the SEC Championship game will even help Texas A&M either, as NCAA Tournament selections are generally set in stone before conference championships even conclude. If Texas A&M doesn’t make the tournament, the current college basketball landscape needs to change.