For the second time in as many seasons, the Texas Longhorns are taking a trip to the NCAA Tournament, this time as the No. 6 seed in the East region.
The Longhorns will match up with the 11th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies.
Texas slipped a seed or even two from some late-season projections, when a four seed seemed to be a realistic potential placement for Texas in Chris Beard’s first season with the program. However, Texas struggled down the stretch, dropping each of their last three contests and four of their last six.
So, the Horns enter March with next to no momentum — that’s the bad news.
The good news, on the other hand, is that even a single win matters, and more so given that the Longhorns haven’t captured an NCAA Tournament win since the Rick Barnes era. And while Texas didn’t close the regular season or the Big 12 Tournament on a high note, much of the reason Beard is now in Austin is because of his success in March.
In five seasons in Lubbock, Beard guided Texas Tech to a 9-3 record in the Big Dance, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2018 and an appearance in the national title game in 2019. And while those heights might feel far fetched for his current group of Longhorns, it’s notable that Beard’s teams won their opening matchup in each of Texas Tech’s trips to the tourney.
That seemingly simple success has eluded Texas for far too long, and now at the win or go home portion of the schedule, Beard and the Longhorns have a chance to accomplish something the program hasn’t since 2014 — win an NCAA Tournament game.
The game between Texas and Virginia Tech will take place in Milwaukee on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Central on TBS.