Selection Sunday has finally arrived, and Shaka Smart's first season in Austin begins to wrap up with a punched ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Smart's Texas Longhorns (20-12, 11-8), resulted in a considerably impressive résumé heading into the Big Dance, with six ranked wins, including and NCAA-leading four wins over top-10 competition. But after losing five of its last nine games, which includes two blowout losses to Baylor and a 30-point drumming at home against Kansas, there's growing concern that Texas may have peaked during the regular season yet again.
But much went into the late struggles, which could also prove favorable for the Longhorns when the brackets are announced. Tasked with navigated through the grueling Big 12, Texas owned the nation's No. 2 ranked strength of schedule, and did so without star center Cameron Ridley, who fractured his foot prior to the UConn game and missed the remainder of the regular season. Star floor general Isaiah Taylor also saw issues with plantar fasciitis down the stretch, which became apparent in some key losses.
Ridley returned in Texas' 14-point loss to Baylor in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but was drastically limited to two points in two minutes; a likely precautionary by Smart to assure Ridley's ready for the NCAA Tournament. Taylor, on the other hand, should see additional rest for an injury he's been able to play through to this point, with Texas not taking the floor again for nearly a week.
All things considered, the Longhorns have proven to be a team that can lose on any given night, and beat anyone on any given night.
As far as seeding goes, the Longhorns are essentially a lock to be a 5-seed, 6-seed, or 7-seed. Texas is projected as a 6-seed in the West region, in which it would play 11-seeded Yale, according to ESPN, and a 7-seed in the East region to play the 10-seed Cincinnati, according to CBSSports. Bracket Matrix, which averages projections from 97 brackets across the web, has Texas as a 6-seed.
Collectively, the Big 12 is projected to see seven teams in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN:
3: West Virginia
5: Iowa State
8: Texas Tech
NCAA Tournament Selection Show
Start Time: 4:30 p.m. CT
Online Streaming: NCAA.com
App Streaming: March Madness Live app
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