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So Much for Hoop Dreams, at Least for This Year


Harry
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On Friday the University of Texas at Austin will play host to the N.C.A.A. mens basketball tournament for the first time in eight years. But what you may not see on the court at the Frank Erwin Center is a single team from Texas.

That includes U.T. Under N.C.A.A. rules, host teams dont play at their own arena, but the 16-17 Longhorns wont be in the tournament at all this season, breaking a streak of 14 consecutive appearances for head coach Rick Barnes. (Before the seasons final home game against Baylor, Mike Finger, who covers the team for The San Antonio Express-News, was reading the Wikipedia entry for the College Basketball Invitational, a third-tier consolation tournament that nobody in Austin ever had to know about before.)

It isnt just the Horns. Baylor, which fell one win short of the Final Four in both 2010 and 2012, lost nine of its last 13 games this season, making it a longshot for the field of 68. Texas A&M finished 11th in its first season as a member of the 14-team Southeastern Conference. Even North Texas, a preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt behind a potential N.B.A. lottery draft pick, Tony Mitchell, went 12-20.

As recently as 2010, Texas tied an N.C.A.A. record for the most teams from a single state in the tournament with seven: U.T., Baylor, Texas A&M, North Texas, Houston, the University of Texas at El Paso and Sam Houston State. This season, barring any conference tournament surprises, its hopes are pinned entirely on Stephen F. Austin, which was favored to win the Southland Conference tournament Saturday night in Katy.

If the Lumberjacks fell short, Texas could be absent from March Madness for the first time since 1977, when the term March Madness didnt yet exist.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/sports/march-madness-time-and-texas-may-not-get-to-play.html

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