The 10-member NCAA selection committee (currently sequestered like a jury in a murder trial) has much to ponder. Texas is one of seven Top 10 teams to have stumbled in conference tournaments. (These are the elite squads with little to gain facing desperate bubble teams that throw everything at you except the head coachs chair).
Its a no-brainer that No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 Kentucky, and No. 4 Kansas are locks as top seeds. Sixth-ranked Oklahoma should be, at best, a No. 2 because theres no way the selection committee should seed the Sooners higher than a Texas team that swept them during the regular season. Besides, no school has ever been awarded a top seed after finishing third in its respective conference. No. 7 Florida lost at home last Saturday and again Friday. Later Gators. No soup for you.
The strongest contender to supplant Texas is No. 5 Pittsburgh, which won the Big East Tournament.
But if the selection committee gives a passing thought to the regular season, Texas is no worse than a number two seed in the South Regional. That is the only bracket for which Barnes expressed a clear preference since San Antonio is the host city for the Sweet Sixteen. Texas entered the game with a No. 3 national ranking (AP/ESPN-USA TODAY) and a No. 2 RPI rating (trailing only Kentucky following Arizonas upset loss to UCLA in the Pac-10 quarters).
A No. 2 seed in the South Regional bodes infinitely better for Texas than a No. 1 seed in another venue. The Alamodome would, in essence, become the Erwin Center South filled with screaming Orangebloods fueled by more than a couple of Riverwalk margaritas.
At least one prominent Longhorn is content to leave the speculation to sports reporters and fans.
"Im not concerned at all about that," Ford said. "As long as were in the tournament, well be fine. It really doesnt matter what seed they put us at."
"If it turns out that way for us, Ill be fine," Barnes said.
Kansas head coach Roy Williams, meanwhile, has led three Jayhawk squads to Final Four appearances despite failing to win the (Big 12, Big 8) conference tournament title in those particular seasons.
"Are we cable of beating anybody in country?" Barnes posited. "Absolutely. But whether youre a number one seed, a number two seed, a number eight or a number nine, you still have to go out and win."
Ford admitted that losing was "real tough" but added, "Its not our last game of the year. Weve got to move forward and come out in the Tournament with the intensity we need."
Snagging the No. 1 seed, while prestigious, basically means you get to open Tournament play against a team with a hyphen in its name. Sometimes there are even two hyphens. (See Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, better known as IUPUI). Likewise, the No. 2 seed opens against a small school that youve heard of but youre not sure where they are located. (For example, most Aggies can tell you where teams from Manhattan or San Diego are from. But Austin Peay? It sounds like something environmentalists have recently detected in Barton Springs.)
Either way, ten seconds after Texas tips-off in the real Tournament a few days from now, the last thing on your mind will be Texas Tech -- unless, of course, you care how the Red Raiders are doing in the NIT.