After what may have been a season saving win Saturday afternoon against West Virginia, Texas Longhorns basketball (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) will enter the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 7 seed.
Texas will take on No. 10 seed Iowa State on Wednesday at approximately 8:30 pm CST at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. During the regular season, the ‘Horns beat the Cyclones twice, winning an overtime game in Ames and then securing a relatively easy victory at home more recently.
If Texas wins, Shaka Smart’s team will play No. 2 seed Texas Tech on Thursday at around 6 pm CST on ESPN or ESPN 2 in a quarterfinal match-up. The Longhorns beat the Red Raiders at home in January before falling in overtime in Lubbock in a closely-contested game.
The Big 12 Tournament bracket is set! pic.twitter.com/5Az9aQBewy— Jake (@AlwaysMarch_) March 4, 2018
At 8-10, the Longhorns were in a four-way tie with Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma, but head-to-head tie-breakers put the ‘Horns behind the Bears and ahead of the Cowboys and Sooners.
Overall, the bracket shapes up well for Texas — in the absence of a first-round bye, playing the conference’s worst team is a good result. And in the second round, the Red Raiders are still working star guard Keenan Evans back to full health. Even if Evans is 100 percent, Texas matched up with Texas Tech well during the regular season. Moreover, Shaka Smart’s team avoided the three teams it got swept by this season — Baylor, Kansas, and Kansas State. Only the Bears are on the same side of the bracket, but the Longhorns wouldn’t face off against Baylor until a possible semifinal matchup.
Though Saturday’s win propelled Texas to a 98 percent likelihood of making the NCAA tournament in ESPN’s BPI, the ‘Horns still have work to do to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. Falling to the Cyclones in the first round could put Texas in a play-in game or leave the ‘Horns out of the tournament completely depending on other conference tournament results.
The opportunity is unquestionably there, and Smart expressed some optimism on Saturday that star freshman forward Mo Bamba could play in Kansas City.