Texas men draw No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament, will open against Colgate on Thursday

Thomas Jones
Austin American-Statesman

Less than 24 hours after crushing Kansas for the Big 12 Tournament title, the Texas men’s basketball team learned its NCAA fate.

The No. 7 Longhorns (26-8) drew a No. 2 seed in the Midwest region from the NCAA selection committee on Sunday and will open the NCAA Tournament against 15th-seeded Colgate on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

More:Texas men stun Kansas to win Big 12 basketball title, make its claim for a No. 2 seed

The Longhorns will compete in a region headlined by No. 1 seed Houston. But the region also includes No. 3 Xavier, No. 4 Indiana and No. 7 Texas A&M. If A&M beats Penn State and Texas handles Patriot League champion Colgate, then the Longhorns and Aggies would meet in the second round.

Texas guard Marcus Carr shoots the ball against Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson in the first half of the Big 12 Tournament finals at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo. Texas beat Kansas 76-56 on Saturday and the Longhorns will enter this week's NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. They open the tournament against Colgate on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

But interim head coach Rodney Terry wasn't interested in any possible theatrics with ancient rivals at Texas A&M, which will renew a conference rivalry with the Longhorns when Texas joins the SEC for the 2024-25 school year. He knows his squad could have their hands full with a dangerous Colgate team that likes to launch an array of 3-pointers — a recipe often used by underdogs in March Madness.

More:View the complete NCAA bracket, here

"Colgate will be on our minds, and that's what we're going to start working on," Terry said Sunday at Moody Center, where the Longhorns gathered to watch the selection show alongside members of the Longhorn Foundation and a large contingent of Austin media. "Our staff will be working tirelessly on (studying) them starting here in a couple of hours. We'll be digging into them; they're a good team, a conference champion."

More:Christian Bishop helps muscle Texas into Big 12 title game

How good is Colgate, and can the Raiders spring an upset?

Colgate (26-8) finished its conference play with a 17-1 record and cruised to its third consecutive Patriot League tournament title with a 79-61 victory over Lafayette on Wednesday. The Raiders lean heavily on senior Tucker Richardson and freshman Braeden Smith, the top tandem in the Patriot League. Richardson, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, is a finalist for the Lou Henson national mid-major player of the year award doled out by College Insider, and he's Colgate's all-time leader in both assists and steals. This season, he's averaging 13.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.7 assist and 1.9 steals a game.

Smith, a 6-foot guard, is among the finalists for College Insider’s Kyle Macy Award, which is presented annually to the top freshman in Division I basketball. He averages 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. His 154 assists this season broke the program’s freshman record previously held by Richardson with 132. 

Like Richardson, Smith has started all 34 games this season.

Colgate has made the last four NCAA Tournaments but has never won a game in the event.

More:How to fill out your March Madness brackets for the best odds in NCAA Tournament

What does the rest of the region look like?

Houston, powered by former Manor point guard Jamal Shead, earned the region's top seed after going 31-3 and winning the regular-season title in the American Athletic Conference. They lost high-scoring guard Marcus Sasser to an injury during the tournament, and he did not play in Houston's 75-65 loss to Memphis in the conference title game Sunday.

However, Sasser told reporters Sunday that he expects to play in the first-round NCAA game this week.

Other regional contenders abound. Xavier showed its quality by reaching the finals of the Big East Tournament, Indiana has tested itself all season in the grueling Big Ten, and 13th-seed Kent State looks like one of the most dangerous double-digit seeds in the tournament.

And then there's a loaded first-round matchup between No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 10 Penn State, the two other teams in Des Moines. Each squad made runs to the tournament title games of their respective conferences, with A&M falling to No. 1 seed Alabama in the SEC finals and Penn State stumbling against No. 1 seed Purdue in the Big Ten. Fans of A&M (25-9) had hoped for a higher seed, but they'd love a shot at Texas for just the third time since the Aggies left the Big 12 to join the SEC for the 2012-13 school year.

But matchups with A&M or any other team won't happen if the Longhorns don't maintain the momentum gained in a four-game winning streak that included three wins at the Big 12 Tournament this past weekend in Kansas City, Terry said.

"We're playing well right now," he said. "I think over the last four games, obviously, we've had a lot of success in terms of really guarding and scoring in different ways. It'll be no different in terms of what we have to do in an NCAA Tournament on a neutral court."

How often has Texas been seeded this high?

Texas has claimed 26 NCAA berths since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Longhorns have been a No. 1 seed once in 2003 and a No. 2 seed twice, in 2006 and 2008.

In 2008, they advanced all the way to the Elite Eight, losing to eventual tournament runner-up Memphis. Just two years earlier, the program saw the same result, losing in overtime of the Elite Eight against LSU in 2006.

Both tournaments were the only time the program reached the Elite Eight outside of 2003, when a No. 1-seeded Texas made it to the Final Four. Texas lost in the national semifinals to eventual national champion Syracuse.

Thursday's game

(15) Colgate vs. (2) Texas, 6:25 p.m., truTV, 104.9