Smart making Texas a contender?

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AUSTIN, TX (TheSpread) – With the recent hire of Shaka Smart as its next men’s basketball coach, will the Texas Longhorns be able to contend for the national title next season?

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Texas made the bold choice to cut ties with Rick Barnes after 17 seasons with the Longhorns. The longtime coach had a 402-180 record with Texas and went 186-94 in Big 12 play. He took the team to the NCAA Tournament in all but once season, including a Final Four appearance in 2003. Barnes led Texas to a 20-14 record in 2014-15 with an 8-10 mark in the Big 12. The Longhorns were eliminated in the NCAA Tournament in their opening game.

According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, Texas is currently listed with 50/1 odds to win the NCAA Tournament next season. North Carolina is the current favorite at 6/1, while Kentucky has been listed with 8/1 odds.

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Smart comes to Texas from VCU, where he spent the last six seasons and posted an impressive 163-56 overall record along with a 74-30 record in conference play, which includes three seasons in the Colonial Athletic Association and three seasons in the Atlantic 10. Smart led VCU to the Final Four in 2011 and the Rams made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances before he left for Texas. Smart is known for his “havoc” defense, which applies full-court pressure from start to finish.

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