It's been a over a decade since the Longhorns made four consecutive NCAA tournaments. That could change Sunday

Joe Cookby:Joe Cook03/15/24


Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams for the 1985 edition of March Madness, the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball program has earned a spot in the field 29 times. Rodney Terry and his 2023-24 team are near certainties to receive an at-large bid and become the 30th Texas team in 40 seasons since tournament expansion to make the field.

[Join Inside Texas and get ONE MONTH of Longhorn intel for just $1!]

Terry will also likely help the program achieve a feat it hasn’t accomplished in over a decade. With an at-large bid, the Longhorns will have made four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. That’s something that hasn’t been done since Rick Barnes made 14 straight tournaments between 1999 and 2012.

Four straight selections has been accomplished on two other occasions outside of Barnes’ incredible run. Tom Penders made the tournament four straight seasons twice during his 10-year run as head coach of the Longhorns. His first streak started in 1989 when the Longhorns were an 11-seed, defeating Georgia Tech to advance to the second round before falling to Missouri.

Then in 1990, the peak of BMW with Travis Mays, Lance Blanks, and Joey Wright, the Longhorns reached the program’s fourth Elite Eight and first of the 64-team era when they defeated Georgia, Purdue, and Xavier before falling by three points to rival Arkansas in the regional final. Texas reached the second round in 1991 and did not make it out of the first round in 1992.

A one year absence from the tournament in 1993 was followed up by another four-year postseason run. Penders’ Longhorns won opening round games in 1994, 1995, and 1996 but could not reach the second weekend. In 1997, the Longhorns topped 10-seed Wisconsin and 15-seed Coppin State, who had upset South Carolina in the third-ever 15-over-2 upset, before falling to Louisville in the regional semifinals.

Penders would go 14-17 in 1997-98, and would be replaced by Barnes. The winningest head coach in UT history by almost 200 games appeared in 14 straight NCAA Tournaments to start his Longhorn tenure, establishing Texas as a basketball power in the 2000s.

Barnes’ historic run at Texas was headlined by a Final Four appearance in 2003, the only time Texas ever earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Barnes reached Sweet 16s in 2002 and 2004 and Elite Eights in 2006 and 2008.

This four-year stretch of season from 2021-24 is unique compared to the three previous occurrences as three different head coaches will be responsible for the streak.

Shaka Smart made the tournament during the 2020-21 season before his Longhorns bowed out in the opening round via an Abeline Christian upset. Smart would then take the Marquette job and be replaced by Chris Beard. In his first season in 2021-22, Beard led Texas back to the NCAA Tournament and earned the program’s first March Madness win since 2014.

In the 2022-23 season, Beard was fired in early January and Terry took over as acting then interim head coach. He guided the Longhorns to the program’s first Elite Eight appearance in 15 years and within a few minutes of Texas’ fourth ever Final Four.

Predicted to be in the tournament on all 96 of’s gathered projections and a consensus eight-seed, the Longhorns must wait for their name to be called on Sunday during the tournament selection show.

When they do, they’ll have reached a streak of four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances rarely achieved in school history.

You may also like