The Texas Longhorns are officially back in the NCAA Tournament for an 11th straight season with Sunday's release of the 2009 NCAA Tournament bracket. The Longhorns are in the East Region as the seven seed and will play the #10 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday in Greensboro, NC.
The meeting on Thursday will be the first ever between the two programs.
The Longhorns head into the NCAA Tournament with a 22-11 record after winning two games in the Big 12 Tournament over Colorado and Kansas State. The Longhorns lost in the conference semifinals to a hot Baylor team.
Texas, while they struggled for a stretch during conference play, were awarded a seven seed due in large part to playing a competitive non-conference schedule that included wins over UCLA, Villanova in New York City and at Wisconsin. All three teams are in the NCAA Tournament field of 65 with UCLA a #6 seed in the East Region, Villanova a #3 seed in the East Region and Wisconsin a #12 seed in the East Region.
The Longhorns played a fourth NCAA Tournament team in the non-conference losing to Michigan State in Houston. The Spartans are the #2 seed in the Midwest.
In total, the Longhorns faced nine teams that are in the NCAA Tournament field. Out of conference, Texas was 3-1, but were just 3-5 vs. Big 12 teams that made the field.
The Golden Gophers enter the NCAA Tournament with a 22-10 record and a seventh place finish in the Big 10.
Minnesota went 3-0 in non-conference play against NCAA Tournament teams beating Cornell, North Dakota State and Louisville in Glendale, AZ. Cornell is the #14 seed in the West Region, North Dakota State is the #14 in the Midwest Region and Louisville is the #1 seed in the Midwest Region.
The Golden Gophers have a 7-8 record versus the NCAA Tournament field. The Gophers went 0-3 against Michigan State, 1-1 against Ohio State, 2-0 vs. Wisconsin, 0-1 vs. Purdue, 1-1 against Illinois and 0-2 vs. Michigan.
Tubby Smith coaches Minnesota and has a career-record of 426-169, including 29-13 in the NCAA Tournament. Smith coached the Kentucky Wildcats to the 1997-98 NCAA Championship as well as three other Elite Eight appearances during his time in Lexington.
For the Longhorns, it will be the 27th appearance in the "Big Dance". In 26 prior appearances, Texas sports a 32-29 record. Under Rick Barnes, the Longhorns have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in all eleven seasons he has been in Austin. Texas is 16-10 in the Big Dance under Barnes, including 15-7 since the 2001-02 season.
During that span, Texas has advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond five of those seven seasons, including the Final Four in 2002-03 and the Elite Eight in 2005-06 and last season.
In the last twenty years, Texas has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 18 times. The Longhorns are 25-17 in the tournament over the last 19 years, including seven Sweet 16's, five Elite Eight appearances and the Final Four appearance.
The Longhorns have made three Final Four appearances all time (1943, 1947 and 2003).
The winner of the Texas vs. Minnesota game will take on either #2 seed Duke or #15 seed Binghamton out of the American East Conference on March 21.