For the 14th consecutive season, the University of Texas Longhorns basketball team has made the NCAA Tournament. After sealing its spot with a quarterfinal win over Iowa St. in the Big 12 Tournament, Texas (20-13, 9-9 Big 12) was slotted as a No. 11 seed in the East Regional of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, where they will travel to Nashville, TN to face the No. 6 seed Cincinnati Bearcats (24-10, 12-6 Big East).
I'll be honest: after feeling great all day, when the South and West Regionals were announced -- with Iona getting a bid and Colorado getting a No. 11 seed -- I started to sweat. If the team that finished sixth in the Pac 12 was being given a No. 11 seed based on a conference tourney run, and a mid-major that appeared in 7 of 62 projected brackets was in the field, who the hell knows what the Selection Committee is doing. I started composing my "Screw this epic bullsh**" post at the commercial break.
But minutes later the No. 11 seed in the East lit up burnt orange, with the name 'Texas' filling in the slot, and I erupted with excited relief. The streak is alive. We're in the NCAA Tournament, yet again, with the same opportunity to win-and-advance as everyone else.
As for the Longhorns draw, it doesn't much matter insofar as you have to beat good teams to advance no matter what. That said, I'm neither excited nor terrified by our opening round opponent. On the (very) bright side, although Yancy Gates is a terrific player, Cincinnati does not feature an imposing frontcourt in terms of length, which without Wangmene is of particular concern for this Texas team. On the other hand, the Bearcats feature a damn good backcourt, and all things considered, there's no greater asset in the NCAA Tournament than strong guard play.
In that sense it will be a battle of strength versus strength, but most importantly, we will get our chance. At the end of the day, that's all that matters, and once more, we're in the field, with the opportunity to advance as long as we can win.
Congratulations to the 2011-12 Texas Longhorns basketball team. Getting here was the big goal for this group, and they've done it.
Much more on Cincinnati in the hours and days ahead. Hook 'em!