Forget the Bracketologies, RPI numbers, and winning streaks, UTEP is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. The Miners draw the #12 seed in the West Bracket and take on the #5 seed Butler Bulldogs on Thursday in San Jose, California (time not yet announced). Full West Regional Bracket Here.
- Whew: I felt strongly that UTEP's incredibly run over the last two months was enough to get the Miners into the dance. Nothing, however, is every guaranteed when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. After New Mexico State sewed up a bid last night in the WAC Final, I have to admit I imagined a nightmare scenario where the Aggies bid thievery knocked the Miners out. Luckily, it was not to be.
Butler: The Bulldogs are a very good team. They have impressive wins against Ohio State and Xavier. They also lost to one of our familiar foes, UAB by 10 in Birmingham. CBS analyst Greg Anthony almost immediately pegged the UTEP-Butler game as a potential upset game. Butler steamrolled through the Horizon Conference 18-0 and won the league tournament.
- Quality Losses: The Bulldogs other losses came to Georgetown, Minnesota, and Clemson. All three of those teams made the NCAA Tournament.
- Houston: The Cougars drew the #13 seed in the Midwest and take on former Chapin High School standout Cliff Tucker and his Maryland Terrapins. Should they win, they will take on the winner of the New Mexico State (#12) and Michigan State (#5) game. Both of these games will be on Friday.
Thoughts on the draw? I'm still traveling, but full posting will be back up soon. For now, feel free to FanShot any links you want to share with the community.