March Madness is officially upon us, as Texas starts its 2014 postseason tonight in Kansas City with its Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal match up against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Longhorns enter the game as the No. 3 seed in the Tournament after finishing 11-7 in the regular season conference standings, while West Virginia, meanwhile, snuck into the No. 6 seed with a win over Kansas in the season finale to finish at 9-9.
Texas will be hoping to continue an early trend in this year's Big 12 Tournament: all chalk. The higher seeded teams have won all four games in the books so far: No. 7 Baylor and No. 8 Oklahoma State were victorious in Wednesday's opening round games over TCU and Texas Tech, respectively, and thus far today No. 1 Kansas has knocked off OSU and No. 4 Iowa State has dispatched No. 5 Kansas State. No. 2 Oklahoma is set to take on No. 7 Baylor in the first game of tonight's evening session, tipping at 6:00 pm CT. Texas and West Virginia will tip a half hour after the conclusion of that game, at approximately 8:30 pm CT.
As discussed earlier in the week, the Longhorns won both regular season meetings between the two teams fairly comfortably. At least on paper, however, the two teams look much more evenly matched than those regular season results would suggest. The match up pits two teams with opposite strengths and weaknesses: the Mountaineers are lethal from three point range, but vulnerable in the frontcourt; meanwhile, Texas and its strong frontcourt are lethal when attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line, but struggle to shoot the three pointer.
With that in mind, my magic numbers for a win tonight are 6, 10, and 30:
* If we hit 6 or more three pointers for the game, I'll feel great about our chances to be the winning team.
* If we're doing a great job of finding scoring opportunities within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, I'll take it as a good sign that we're playing how we need to play to win.
* And if we get to the free throw line for 30 or more attempts, I suspect it will be an indication that the game is going the way Texas wants it to go.
PREDICTION: No double-digit win this time around, but Texas holds off West Virginia 80-75 to advance to the Big 12 semis.
Enjoy the madness