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What Texas’ tournament draw means for its postseason chances

The Texas Longhorns (20-12) have been a frustrating team to watch on the basketball court this season. From inconsistent offense to lackluster defense, the team has looked disjointed for much of the year.

Despite the above concerns, this season’s tournament draw gives Texas a chance to reach the Sweet 16.

Winning in the NCAA tournament isn’t easy as Texas knows well. The program is 39-40 all-time in the NCAA tournament. That resume includes plenty of first round exits. The Longhorns suffered losses to the likes of No. 11 seed Northern Iowa, No. 14 Abilene Christian and No. 11 Nevada when Shaka Smart led the team.

Chris Beard and Rodney Terry had better success as head coaches in Austin. Beard earned the team’s first NCAA tournament victory since 2014 in his first season. Terry took Texas to its first Elite Eight since 2009.

The dysfunction for the current squad is more reminiscent of the Smart era than the last two tournament runs. Albeit, the Longhorns’ potential opponents provide matchups that could give Texas a chance to win a couple of games.

Texas is set to play the winner of the No. 10 seed play-in game between the Virginia Cavaliers and Colorado State Rams. Some question whether or not the Cavaliers should be in the tournament given their lackluster resume. The two teams weren’t worthy of a tournament bye. They were among the last teams in the field. That favors Texas.

Stylistically, some suggest Virginia’s suffocating defense is a bad matchup for Texas. If the Longhorns run through guard Max Abmas they could certainly see the matchup go in Virginia’s favor. Abmas isn’t very tall or fast and seems to have limited vertical jump. While an effective scorer, his lack of ability to create space for himself has created issues not only in consistent scoring but in protecting the basketball.

Despite the issues Virginia’s defense present, the Cavaliers’ offensive limitations were enough to keep them on the bubble. Should Texas get high scoring forward Dylan Disu and efficient forward Dillon Mitchell shot opportunities in the first game, they could advance to face the No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers.

Tennessee, like Texas, did not have the most impressive entrance to the tournament. The Volunteers lost to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in their first SEC tournament game, 73-56.

While Mississippi State is a good team, Tennessee’s launch to March Madness is similar to how it has fared in the NCAA tournament. Barnes’ squads have struggled in the postseason since he took over at Tennessee. The Vols should be favored in the potential matchup, but the Longhorns would have an opportunity to win.

There is plenty of reason to doubt Texas entering the weekend. The inconsistent product is among the top concerns. Even so, if the team was going to make another Sweet 16 appearance you would expect their tournament draw to look like it looks this year.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire