Team hesitant of No. 1 ranking with six games left in Big 12 play

Dan Hurwitz

Who would not want to be considered the best at what they do?

“We don’t want No. 1,” said Texas forward Jordan Hamilton after Saturday’s 69-60 win against Baylor.

“I don’t want to be No. 1,” echoed freshman Tristan Thompson.

Not yet at least.

Whether they like it or not, it is possible that when the rankings come out today, the Longhorns will be the No. 1 team in the nation after Ohio State fell to Wisconsin on Saturday.

For this to happen, Texas would have to leap frog over No. 2 Kansas, who the Longhorns beat in January.

The Longhorns, who have now won 10 straight, are playing like one of the best teams in the country. Nevertheless, they continue to say that the entire team can still get much better. Much of the team is aware of what is possible once reaching that top spot.

They witnessed it firsthand last season when a collapse — in which they lost 10 of their final 17 games — began after they were crowned the top team in the nation 13 months ago.

While college football coaches may start lobbying for first-place votes this late into a season, mum’s the word for Texas head coach Rick Barnes.

“We haven’t talked about any of that stuff,” Barnes said. “We haven’t talked about anything but trying to get better.”

Barnes said that every team will be looking to beat his team no matter what the rankings say. Teams such as Baylor, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas State and Oklahoma State — all of which are considered on the bubble — remain on the Longhorns’ schedule.

For those teams, that matchup with a top-three ranked Texas team helps boost a tournament resume. The games are still important for the Longhorns as well.

“We are looking for wins to get us in a great position at the end of the year,” Barnes said.

A No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament would likely mean a favorable road to the Final Four for the Longhorns.
But Barnes knows nothing about it.

“I think someone told me the Final Four is in Houston,” he said.

Barnes heard correctly. In addition, favorable tournament locations which the Longhorns could land include Tulsa in the opening two rounds and San Antonio for the regional.

That’s closer than the last time the Longhorns reached the Final Four in 2003, when they stayed in the South and played in front of plenty of burnt orange in Birmingham, San Antonio and New Orleans.

For now, this is all speculation for the fans and media to discuss.

“There is so much that can be done,” Barnes said. “If you start thinking and talking about that stuff, you can really get sidetracked.”