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While Texas wasn't able to get over the hump against Missouri in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, their win against Iowa State in the previous round appears to have been enough to extend coach Rick Barnes' streak of 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Most importantly, none of the three have Texas as one of their "last four in", meaning that possible bubble-bursting wins in the C-USA championship or the semifinals of the Power Six conference tournaments Saturday won't necessarily have an effect on the Longhorns.
Texas has four victories over Top 50 opponents (Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State twice) as well as a 20-13 record and an out-of-conference schedule that included losses to North Carolina and NC State. Even their "bad" loss like Oregon State appears better now that the Beavers upset Pac-12 regular season champion Washington in the first round of their conference tournament.
However, their combined record of 0-8 against Baylor, Kansas and Missouri this season will prevent Rick Barnes and his staff from getting much sleep until Selection Sunday.
The Texas Longhorns look to be safe - for now.
The 'Horns entered the 2012 Big 12 Tournament as the No. 6 seed, and pulled a much needed upset of No. 3 seeded Iowa State on Thursday night, 71-65. SB Nation's bracketology predicts that the 'Horns win, combined with key losses by Washington and Northwestern among others, put Texas firmly in the field of 68.
In other predictions, CBS' Jerry Palm has Texas in the field but safely out of the "last four in" designation, playing as a No. 11 seed against No. 3 Georgetown in the South regional. ESPN's Joe Lunardi isn't as confident - he has Texas as the very last team of 68 in the NCAA Tournament field, just above Seton Hall, Tennessee and Oregon.
Texas could all but erase any doubt of its Tournament worthiness by beat Missouri in the Big 12 Tournament on Friday. The 28-4 Tigers are likely slated for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the RPI boost from beating Mizzou would likely push UT well into the safest part of the infamous bubble.
We discuss whether Texas will make the NCAA Tournament, how Baylor can turn their season around and possible March Madness surprises.
With several bubble teams likely to improve their resumes as well as a host of mid-major teams who could be upset during Championship Week, the Longhorns will probably need two wins in the Big 12 Tournament to feel safe headed into Selection Sunday.
After an up-and-down year that saw a young Texas team coalesce as the season progress but come up just short in their attempts for a signature win in Big 12 play, the Longhorns NCAA Tournament hopes come down to their first-round conference tournament game against Iowa State on Thursday.
With a middling RPI and only three wins (all at home) against teams projected to be in the Tournament (Kansas State, Iowa State and Temple), Texas is one of the last four teams out in SB Nation's latest Bracketology update:
Texas (19-12, 9-9 Big 12, RPI: 54, SOS: 31, non-conf. SOS: 22)
Thanks to an uninspiring closing run that featured consecutive losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State, close victories over Texas Tech (in overtime) and Oklahoma (thanks to a second half comeback), and Saturday's loss to Kansas, the Longhorns need to win some games in Kansas City to earn a bid.
To have any chance of reaching Rick Barnes 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament in Austin, the Longhorns will have to defeat the Cyclones.
They split the season series with Fred Hoiberg's team: losing 74-71 in Ames on Jan. 4 and winning 62-55 in Austin on Jan. 24. On a neutral court, the key will be keeping Iowa State's star PF Royce White in check. The Cyclones surround White, an excellent passer, with a host of three-point shooters, but they depend on White drawing double teams and kicking it out to them on the perimeter.
However, depending on how Championship Week goes, and how many of the top teams from one-bid leagues are knocked off in the conference tournaments, Texas won't be able to breathe easy on Selection Sunday unless they win two games in Kansas City.
If the Longhorns do get out of the first round, they would likely face Missouri in the semifinals on Friday.
Texas stays in the field partially because of others' failings, as consecutive losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor should have cost the Longhorns a place. However, a win over surging Temple and splits with Kansas State and Iowa State are enough to keep Rick Barnes' side around for now, though that loss to the Cowboys and consecutive losses to Oregon State and N.C. State at the Legends Classic may give the Committee pause. Of the Longhorns' three remaining games, only one is a quality win opportunity, and that's a trip to Kansas on March 3.
The Longhorns have some work to do if they want to make it to the NCAA tournament, and if they can win the rest of their regular season games which includes a game at Kansas then they should be safe.
However, if Texas slips up they will likely need to win a game or two in the Big 12 Tournament.
Over this part Thursday and Friday various media members gathered in Indianpolis for an exercise of going through what the NCAA tournament selection goes through, and there was computer simulations in place to determine conference championships.
Other teams in the Columbus pod are the Denver Pioneers who are No. 14 seed and the Indiana Hoosiers who are projected as a No. 3 seed. The bracket was organized where the last game of the season was this past Wednesday.
Texas getting a No. 11 seed is not too surprising since they are on the bubble with various bracket projects have Texas one of the last few teams in the tournament or just on the outside. Also, after Saturday's loss to the Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Texas' at-large bid took another hit.
The 2011-12 Texas Longhorns basketball team has been an up and down squad ever since Big 12 play began. Currently there are sitting at 7-6 but Texas has won their last four games, and with that streak they are putting themselves in position to make the NCAA tournament.
Right now Texas is barely in the field according to the latest Bubble Watch over at SB Nation. Texas avoids the opening round but they are the last team to make it to the round of 64.
There is still a lot of work to be done if Texas wants to move to the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. Their lofty RPI which is in the top-40 is going to keep them in the discussion, but Texas is 2-6 against the RPI top-50 with their best win being against the Temple Owls who currently have an RPI rating of 18.
Texas has chances over the last two weeks of conference play to earn quality wins when they play the Baylor Bears and Kansas Jayhawks, but Texas needs to concentrate on not stumbling against the other games on their schedule whose RPI are 100 and higher.
Rick Barnes' streak of 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in Austin will be on the line in Texas' next two games against Oklahoma State and Baylor.