The Texas Longhorns will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Chris Beard next week and attempt to avenge last season’s early exit.
The No. 6-seeded Longhorns (21-11) will face Virginia Tech in the first round as part of action in the East Region that begins on Friday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Texas is banking on bouncing back from its quarterfinal loss to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, where the Longhorns blew a 20-point lead to take an early exit. After the game, Beard ripped his team’s mindset.
The Longhorns will be making their 36th NCAA Tournament appearance and their second in a row. Last year’s appearance was short. The Longhorns won the Big 12 Tournament for the first time but fell in the first round to Abilene Christian, which was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
That led to Shaka Smart’s departure to take the head-coaching job at Marquette. Texas hired Beard, a Texas alum, away from Texas Tech a few weeks later.
Just last month, Beard said he felt his Longhorns were a “Final Four caliber” team. That was just after they beat Kansas at home. If the Longhorns were to make the Final Four, it would be their first appearance there since 2003.
But Texas hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game in their past four appearances, dating back to a loss to Butler in 2015. Texas last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2014 when it defeated Arizona State. Texas followed that with a loss to Michigan.
Texas last reached the Sweet 16 in 2008, where it actually reached the Elite Eight after wins over Austin Peay, Miami (FL) and Stanford before losing to Memphis.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.