Texas gets the NCAA Tournament shaft: No. 10 in the country, but only a fourthseed
It turns out that the NCAA Tournament selection committee believes in the enigmatic University of Texas' basketball team even less than the most dubious Longhorns fan.
For when the NCAA bracket was revealed Sunday evening, the No. 10 ranked in the country found itself relegated to a fourth seed. It wasn't the stuff of Colorado being left out of the 68-team field entirely, but as far as seedings go, Texas' is one of the tournament's biggest head scratchers.
Forget that Texas was up for the No. 1 overall seed in the entire tournament just several weeks ago. Just Saturday after a lost to Kansas in the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns (27-7) were considered to be in play for a second seed. The consolation prize was considered to be a No. 3.
Instead, Rick Barnes' team drops all the way to No. 4 in the West Regional, getting a much tougher first matchup than expected against 13-seed Oakland University (25-9), a team with NCAA Tournament experience from a year ago, one that's shown it is more than capable of upsetting major conference powers. The little school in the suburbs of Detroit beat Tennessee this season and lost to Michigan State by one point.
Oakland plays and up and down style, averaging the second most points in the country at 85.6 per game, which could play into the Longhorns' athletic hands in the Friday game.
If Texas avoids the upset (one that CBS NCAA Tournament analyst Greg Anthony is already predicting), it faces the possibility of matching up with Arizona in Tulsa, Okla., which would be arguably the premiere game of the tournament's opening weekend. Arizona (27-7) plays 12th seed Memphis (25-9) on Friday. And oh yeah, Duke — the No. 1 seed in the West — could loom as a possible Sweet 16 game for Texas if it gets that far with teams like UConn and San Diego State on the other side of the West bracket.
"I'd pay money to see Texas and Arizona play," Charles Barkley said of the possible Sunday showdown.
Barnes could probably live without the high-profile drama. If the Longhorns had received the third seed widely expected, both their first and second NCAA Tournament games would have likely been easier. Facing questions centered around another late-season stumble, Barnes has his team in the tournament for the 13th straight year but no one in Austin will be satisfied with that stat.
Especially if Oakland center Keith Benson, a borderline NBA prospect who averages 18 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, gets Texas freshman Tristan Thompson into foul trouble on Friday.
"We're a good team," Barnes said before the field was announced. "We can beat anyone."
Getting everyone else to believe hasn't been so easy.