Hoops: Horns heading to Dallas as No. 6 seed

Despite being bounced from the Big 12 Tournament in blowout fashion, Texas landed a solid No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a first round match-up on Friday in Dallas vs. No. 11 seed Boston College.

"You can't ever express how great an accomplishment it is to earn one of those 65 spots in the NCAA Tournament," Rick Barnes said. "That being said, there was a much better feeling in our locker room when the bracket was announced this year than how our guys responded last season. I know our guys are really excited about the seed they earned and about playing in Dallas. We're really hoping to see a lot of Texas fans in Dallas cheering us on."

The Horns and the Eagles enter the Dance with identical 20-11 records, although BC, considered a bubble team heading into Selection Sunday, limped through the Big East schedule at a pedestrian 8-8 and, after a 12-1 start, won just eight games and lost 10.

Don't let the seed differential, the respective conference marks, the Eagles' recent record or the BC bubble talk fool you into believing UT is the clear-cut favorite in this one. Texas entered last year's tourney as a six-seed but promptly dropped its opener to 11-seed Temple. Boston College will bring to Big D some of the same ingredients that the Owls brought to the Big Easy last March, particularly an outstanding guard combo in Troy Bell and Ryan Sidney.

Texas, though, has added a very important player to its mix since that '01 Tourney disappointment. True freshman T.J. Ford is the type of player that post-season runs are often built upon. Ford, though, can not do it himself against quality opposition, as evidenced by the loss to the Sooners in KC. The Horns must get production from Brandon Mouton and James Thomas, neither of which made a field goal in the OU game.

If Texas gets by BC, it will face the winner of the Mississippi State-McNeese State game on Sunday for the right to advance to the Regional semis in Madison. The three-seed Bulldogs won the SEC Tournament over Alabama on Sunday.

Six Big 12 teams earned invites to the Tourney Sunday, with Kansas snagging the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional despite a league tournament loss to Oklahoma earlier in the day. The Sooners seemed worthy of a No. 1 seed but had to settle for the No. 2 spot in the West Regional. Tech is a No. 6 seed in the East, Oklahoma State, which lost to the Red Raiders in KC, fell to a surprisingly low No. 7 seed in the South and Missouri squeaked in, possibly as the last at-large team to make the field, as a No. 12 seed in the West.

Women's hoops note: Jody Conradt's team earned a No. 4 seed in the women's tourney and will host sub-regional action in Austin this weekend. Texas opens with Wisconsin-Green Bay and a win in that one will set up a potential contest with Louisiana Tech. LaTech's head coach Leon Barmore has a perfect 7-0 record head-to-head vs. Conradt, including a national semifinal win over the Horns in the Erwin Center in '87.

[Editor's note: We'll have more on the UT-BC match-up in our next report.]


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