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Rodney Terry Looks to Join Elite Company in Sweet 16

Terry Makes Case for Full-Time Job

Early in the season, Texas basketball was in danger. Coach Chris Beard was arrested in December on domestic assault charges. The program put Beard on indefinite suspension and fired him in January. How have the Longhorns made it to the Sweet 16?

Interim coach Rodney Terry has done a fantastic job. Texas is in its first Sweet 16 since 2008 and is seeking its first Final Four since 2003. The sportsbook has the Longhorns as the second choice to win the Midwest region (+175). Texas has also become a popular

head coach Rodney Terry of the Texas Longhorns
head coach Rodney Terry of the Texas Longhorns | Chris covatta/getty images/afp

March Madness prediction to win the championship (+850).

Before the NCAA Tournament, there was some debate if Terry had earned the full-time job. At this point, it should be obvious. Terry is the right guy for the program. Now, he looks to join elite company against a group of exceptional coaches in the Midwest region.

Breaking the Interim Mold

Typically, interim coaches do not fare well in the NCAA Tournament. This is rare, as most teams do not fire their coaches mid-season. Plus, most of these teams do not end up being good enough for a tournament berth.

Even in rare cases, teams led by an interim coach usually have an early exit. The immediate example is No. 1 Kansas led by interim Norm Roberts as Bill Self dealt with his health issues. The Jayhawks lost in the second round against No. 8 Arkansas on Saturday. Last year, Kevin Nickelberry took over as interim coach for LSU, and the Tigers lost in the first round to 11-seed Iowa State.

In 2008, Dan Dakich led a promising Indiana squad after Kelvin Sampson – Houston’s current coach – was dismissed after more than 100 “impermissible recruiting phone calls.” With Dakich at the helm, the Hoosiers were a first-round exit. Depending on interim coaches in March Madness betting typically does not end well.

Steve Fisher is one of the few interim coaches to have success in March Madness. Before the 1989 NCAA Tournament, Michigan coach Bill Frieder agreed to become Arizona State’s coach. Athletic director Bo Schembechler responded by firing Frieder the night before the tournament. The interim job fell to Fisher. This was a run no March Madness expert picks saw coming. Michigan would cut down the nets as national champions. Fisher is the first and only interim coach to win the NCAA Tournament.

Is Terry capable of becoming the second interim to conquer March Madness? This is a reasonable March Madness pick with Texas tied with UConn as the fourth choice to win the championship.

Will Terry Best Veteran Coaches?

Texas’ potential run led by Terry gets more interesting when looking at his competition. The Sweet 16 in the Midwest region is full of veteran coaches.

Sampson has led Houston to three straight Sweet 16 appearances. Plus, the Cougars are the second-favorite title picks at +400, per NCAA odds. Jim Larranaga has completely changed the Miami program. The Hurricanes made one Sweet 16 before Larranaga took over in 2011. Since, Miami has made four Sweet 16s and is seeking its second straight Elite Eight. From 2004-09, Sean Miller took Xavier to two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight. Miller led Arizona to five Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights from 2009-21.

Terry has some elite competition. Texas’ interim coach was the head man at Fresno State from 2011-18 and UTEP from 2018-21. However, he made only one NCAA Tournament in 2016. Terry’s first tournament win was on Thursday against Colgate. His resume clearly does not stack up to Sampson, Larranaga and Miller. However, Terry can change that on Friday night.

College basketball lines have Texas as four-point favorites against Xavier in the Sweet 16. Terry could take the Longhorns to their first Elite Eight since 2008. If he manages to take down Sampson or Larranaga in the following round and earns a Final Four berth, how can we doubt Terry anymore?

Texas’ play under Terry has been a nice story up to this point. It has the chance to become legendary over the weekend. Will Terry join elite company as the second interim coach to win the NCAA Tournament?

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