Texas defied odds to win their first-ever Big 12 Tournament Championship. Can they defy odds to win their first-ever national championship and win you $2 million in BetMGM's free Bracket Challenge?
Texas entered the Big 12 Tournament tied with West Virginia for the third-best odds (9-1) to cut down the nets in Kansas City and ranked fourth in ticket share (8.1 percent) and handle share (9.2 percent) on BetMGM.com. Now, after defeating Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Longhorns are tied for 10th in national championship odds:
Ohio State: +1400
Florida State: +1600
Oklahoma State: +1600
West Virginia: +2000
In beating a top-50 NET team in a neutral environment, Texas added an eighth Quadrant 1 win to their NCAA Tournament résumé, tied for fourth-most in the country. They remained undefeated in neutral games (5-0), jumped to No. 21 in the NET, and are projected as a 3-seed in Bracketology, their highest seed since early February.
If Texas earns a 3-seed during the Selection Show on Sunday night, it’ll be their highest seed since 2008 when D.J. Augustin, A.J. Abrams, and Damion James led a 2-seed that lost in the Elite Eight. It was their fourth top-3 seed in six years, though none of the six years ended with a national championship, and only one ended with a Final Four appearance (as a 1-seed in 2003). The Longhorns haven’t reached a Final Four since that lone appearance in the expanded era and haven’t advanced beyond the Round of 32 since that Elite Eight appearance in 2008. And for the first five years of Shaka Smart’s run in Austin, Final Four and national championship aspirations were laughable.
"This is finally coming together," said senior forward Jericho Sims after Saturday’s win. "Everything is clicking."
Sims was a four-star recruit from Minneapolis who committed to Texas after Smart’s second season as head coach of a program nowhere near the Final Four or national championship picture. And while Sims and Smart have a daunting path ahead before truly entering the national championship picture for the first time in more than a decade, they can finally see the picture.
After beating the hottest team in college basketball on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Center for the program’s biggest win in 13 years, Texas’ national championship odds might be relevant instead of a punchline.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM