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March Madness guide: how to watch Longhorn basketball and build your NCAA championship bracket

March Madness begins for men's and women's Division 1 basketball this week. (Texas MBB/Twitter)

It's the most bracket-filled time of the year, and thousands across America are shifting from friends to enemies as they place their bets on the 2022 NCAA Championship basketball tournament starting Tuesday.

Despite getting edged out of its second straight Big 12 championship in a TCU upset, the No. 25 University of Texas men's basketball team is headed to the NCAA Championship for the second year in a row. They'll play as the sixth seed against 11th-seed Virginia Tech to kick off the first round of the tournament at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Want some March Madness on your home turf? The No. 2 Longhorn women's program will have a last hurrah at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin as they take on No. 15 Fairfield for the first round of the women's championship at 7 p.m. Friday.

Here's a look at both teams and tournaments, some bracket bets and where to watch the biggest tournament in college basketball:

Texas mens' basketball

The Longhorns are headed to their second straight NCAA Championship with redemption on the mind: the club won its first Big 12 Championship tournament in history last season against rival Oklahoma only to be thwarted by underdog team Abilene Christian University in the first March Madness round in 2021.

The team is ranked at 25th overall and sits as a sixth seed in the NCAA East. If it beats 11th seed Virginia Tech (23-12), it'll advance to the NCAA Round of 32 for the first time since 2014 to play the winner of Purdue and Yale.

The Longhorns are joined by four other Texas teams, including three of its Big 12 opponents.

First year head coach Chris Beard likely won't see his former team Texas Tech in the tournament. The rivalry team, which has sowed a deep sense of betrayal against their former leader and beat the Longhorns twice in hotly-contested regular season games, is secured as a third seed in the NCAA West.

If the team advances to the NCAA East final, it could take on rival Baylor, the No. 1 team to beat. Houston and ninth seed foe TCU take up residency in the NCAA South, while two Texas teams, Texas Southern and Texas A&M- Corpus Christi, are kicking off the tournament in the First Four round at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday.

The Longhorns face 'a really tough challenge’ ahead of them against the Virginia Tech Hokies as they look to shake off a three-game losing streak in the first round game at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Texas womens' basketball

Meanwhile, Texas women's basketball is facing a different story as they head into the 2022 NCAA Championship—the first women's NCAA championship to ever host a full 68-team bracket like the men's tournament.

The Longhorns most recently toppled No. 1 seed Baylor from the Big 12 throne to take their first conference title in nearly 20 years Sunday. The team is hot off an 11-game win streak as they head into the tournament as the No. 2 seed against 15th seed Fairfield.

They'll hold the home court advantage, too, taking on the first-round foe as one of six matchups hosted at UT's Frank Erwin Center.

The team will need to beat out first seed team Stanford on their way to the top if they plan to avenge their 2021 loss in the Elite Eight round of the tournament. Fellow Texas teams UT Arlington, Stephen F. Austin and rival Baylor are in the tournament, but they wouldn't be eligible to see any Lone Star foe until the final round of the competition.

The two No. 2 seeds—Baylor and Texas—could once again see each other in another tight battle if both advance to the finals, which would mark the Longhorns' first appearance in the final round since 1986.

Check out the full schedule here.

Bracket tips

Whether you're an underdog-lover or looking to place a safe bet, it can be hard to predict the outcome of the tournament. Many sites, including the Washington Post, have used careful calculations to predict tournament results.

Looking for an easy win? You'll be hard-pressed to find a more favored team than No. 1 Gonzaga, which is projected by some to have a nearly 30 percent chance of taking the tournament. Other top contenders include Arizona and Kansas.

If you're looking to support a Texas team and your Tech hate doesn't run too deep, the Red Raiders may be your best bet at a Texas team taking the tournament, while the No. 5 University of Houston could pose a threat in the NCAA South.

Meanwhile, the womens' bracket could see Texas take it all. Some safer bets include South Carolina, defending champions Stanford, or No. 1 seeds NC State and Louisville.

How to watch

Want some in-person March Madness action? Tickets for the Longhorn women's first round game are currently $30 a pop.

If you're looking for gameday cheer—and plenty of beer—head to popular sports haunts like Longhorn hub School Biergarten, Black Sheep Lodge and Haymaker Austin, all sports hubs with beer specials and more during the tournament. Click here for more March Madness sports pubs around Austin.

The first and second rounds of the men's championship will air on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, while the women's first and second rounds will take place on ESPN2.


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