Jonathan Holmes was nervous leading up to Selection Sunday. As the lone scholarship senior, he didn’t want to finish his career in the NIT. Yet he knew that was an unfortunate possibility after Texas played its way onto the bubble.
He woke up at 5 a.m. and immediately began studying bubble teams. Later, watching the selection show with his teammates, he couldn’t sit still.
“You don't aspire to be in this position,” head coach Rick Barnes said.
But when Holmes saw Texas’ name appear on the screen as a No. 11 seed he sprinted out of the room, excited.
"I was definitely nervous,” sophomore guard Kendal Yancy said, expressing the same emotions. “Man, I did not want to be in the NIT.”
In the first region revealed on Selection Sunday, Texas found out that it was the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region. It will face off against the No. 6 seed Butler in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
"I'm excited for our guys,” Rick Barnes said. “Really, I felt the big game was our game against Texas Tech."
That win against Tech helped Texas avoid that “bad loss” and gave Rick Barnes confidence his team would get a bid.
It wasn’t any particular game that got Texas in the tournament, however, according to Scott Barnes, the NCAA selection committee chairman. Instead, the committee examined Texas' entire body of work.
“Texas' strength of schedule made the difference,” Scott Barnes said on CBS.
And Rick Barnes agreed: “I think it’s the most important thing.”
Butler (22–10, 12–6 Big East) is led by their two junior guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. Over the course of the regular season, Dunham shot 42 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 16.7 points per game. Jones, on the other hand, is an attacker. He didn’t take a 3-point shot all year and averaged 12.6 points per game.
If the Longhorns make it past Butler on Thursday, they will then face Saturday the winner of No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 14 Northeastern.
The Midwest Region is highlighted by Kentucky as the No. 1 overall seed and Big 12 powerhouse Kansas as the 2-seed.
Texas players were quick to tweet their pleasures:
“All we needed was an opportunity man lets get it! #Hookem,” freshman forward Myles Turner tweeted.
“Let the games begin…#Horns” sophomore point Isaiah Taylor tweeted.
On Thursday, follow us on Twitter at @texansports as we live-tweet Texas' game against Butler. In the meantime, send us your thoughts about the bracket. Did you think Texas would make it to the Big Dance?