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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Men's Basketball

UH enters NCAA Tournament as Midwest’s No. 1 seed

UH is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

UH is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

FORT WORTH — For just the second time in program history, Houston is going into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed. The Cougars earned the Midwest Regional’s top seed and will open up against No. 16 Northern Kentucky on Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama.

“We earned this,” UH head coach Kelvin Sampson told his team as they watched Sunday’s selection show.

UH is 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament under Sampson.

Texas is the Midwest’s No. 2 seed followed by Xavier as the No. 3 seed and Indiana as the No. 4 seed.

With a win on Thursday, UH would face the winner of No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Auburn on Saturday.

For the third time under Sampson and the sixth time in program history, UH (31-3) eclipsed the 30-win mark.

All that goes out the window now that March Madness has arrived.

“(It’s a) new season now,” said UH point guard Jamal Shead as the team entered a room inside Dickies Arena to watch the selection show.

The Cougars have never been knocked out before the Sweet 16 when winning at least 30 games. UH went to the Final Four in three of those seasons (1967-68, 1982-83 and 1983-84). 

By reaching the Elite Eight, UH would break the program record for single-season wins, which currently sits at 33 (2018-19).

But UH’s ultimate goal is to travel a few miles down the road from Fertitta Center to NRG Stadium for the Final Four.

By doing so, UH would join Purdue (1980), Duke (1994), Michigan State (2009) and Butler (2010) as just the fifth team to play in the Final Four in its home state since 1979.

The Cougars would also be the sixth school since the NCAA Tournament’s conception in 1939 to play a Final Four in their home city. New York University (1945), City College of New York (1947 and 1950), Louisville (1959), UCLA (1968 and 1972) and Butler (2010) are the only other schools that have played in a Final Four in their hometown.

“If the perfect script comes together and the stars are aligned, April 3 will be a magical night,” said legendary CBS broadcaster and UH alumnus Jim Nantz, who will call his 32nd and last Final Four and national championship on April 1 and 3.

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