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March Madness: Longhorns Prepare for NCAA Tournaments

This year Longhorns have an extra reason to follow the NCAA tournaments — both the men’s and women’s Texas Basketball teams are ranked in the top 25 and are eyeing national titles.

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Imani Boyette and Isaiah Taylor

Every year, basketball fans eagerly wait for March to arrive. They fill out brackets and meticulously monitor the unfolding madness in the wake of underdog upsets.

This year, Longhorns have an extra incentive to follow the NCAA tournaments — both the men’s and women’s Texas Basketball teams are ranked in the top 25 and are eyeing national titles.

Throughout the ups and downs of regular season play, this year has been a prime example of what makes the Forty Acres such a special place: the careful guidance from coaches, the passionate dedication of players, the die-hard support from fans and the overwhelming pride that fills Longhorn nation.

“I’ve never been in a place like UT where everyone genuinely cares about you,” says Imani Boyette, a senior who plays center on the women’s team and is studying accounting. “Everyone cares. That’s why everyone wants to be at this university. Who doesn’t want to go to The University of Texas?”

The women’s basketball team came into this season after a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA tournament last year. The men, on the other hand, finished last season as an unranked team. But head coaches Karen Aston and Shaka Smart are hoping to bring their teams further this year.

“As the Longhorns gear up for the NCAA Tournament, [Head Coach Karen] Aston’s squad has sent a message to Longhorn faithful and the rest of the nation: They’re all in.” —Alcalde 

With a reputation as an energetic leader and relentless recruiter, Aston is now in her fourth season as head coach of the women’s team. This season, she’s led the Texas Women’s Basketball team to a No. 7 ranking, a spot in the polls they earned after winning 28 games — and losing only four.

“[Head Coach Shaka] Smart has primed the Longhorns for long-term success well ahead of schedule.” —The Washington Post

Meanwhile, Smart is having a standout season during his first year at the helm of the Texas Men’s Basketball team. They are ranked No. 23, and have racked up 20 wins while enduring 12 losses. Smart’s quick playing style and dynamic leadership have not only energized a base of die-hard Longhorns but also have won over current players and future recruits. He has even been known to join his players on the couch to watch a basketball game at home.

“He’s one of us,” guard Isaiah Taylor told The Washington Post. “We never had a coach just come to our place like that.”

As the season progressed, the Longhorns knocked off top-10 teams and wowed crowds with come-from-behind victories and highlight-reel teamwork.

The dedicated work and big wins didn’t go unnoticed: five players from each the men’s and women’s teams earned spots on the All-Big 12 Conference Teams.

Taylor, a junior guard who leads the men’s team in scoring, assists and steals, landed on the five-person All-Big 12 First Team, and Boyette and sophomore guard Brooke McCarty also earned spots on the All-Big 12 First Team.

After a long season of exceeding expectations, the Texas Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams are now setting their sights on making The Final Four.

Whether you are heading to the games, watching on TV or following on your phone, put your horns up and game faces on — it’s time to win.

Spirit and pride run deep at The University of Texas at Austin, and never is that more evident than when the Longhorns play. While our unique history of traditions and legacy of athletic achievements give Longhorns much to be proud of, the impact of Texas Athletics extends far beyond the playing field. 

As one of the few self-sustaining athletics programs in the nation, Texas Athletics enhances the mission of the University by contributing financially to student and faculty programs and academic initiatives.

Today, more than 500 student-athletes compete in 20 sports programs. These programs instill students with the passion, knowledge and character it takes to compete, achieve dreams, succeed academically, and contribute to society.