UNT NCAA blog

North Texas will face Purdue on Friday in the NCAA tournament. The Mean Green won four straight games in the Conference USA tournament to earn a bid. 

North Texas will face Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday. 

The Mean Green won four straight games in the Conference USA tournament, including a 61-57 overtime thriller over Western Kentucky in the championship game.

Here's a link to our story on UNT receiving an NCAA bid from earlier today. 

The following are five takeaways on where UNT stands and its first-round matchup with Purdue.

1. UNT left little doubt about its goal

This may be Grant McCasland's first trip to the NCAA tournament as a head coach, but he is no stranger when it comes to national championship tournaments. He led junior college and Division II teams on long postseason runs.

He expects to do the same with the Mean Green. His pitch to recruits has been that he wants to win a national title at UNT.

That attitude was evident following UNT's win over the Hilltoppers.

"We are not going to play. We are going to win," McCasland said.

UNT's players echoed that attitude.

2. Rest will do UNT some good heading in

UNT's players were gassed following their run through the C-USA tournament.

Even McCasland was worn out. His voice sounded like it was about to give out following UNT's win over WKU. 

UNT quickly flew to Indianapolis following its win over the Hilltoppers and will have a week to recover.

3. UNT is in the best spot it has ever been in

If one judges by the seeding for the NCAA tournament, UNT has never been in a better spot.

The Mean Green are the No. 13 seed in the South Region. That is as high as UNT has ever been seeded in the NCAA tournament.

4. Purdue will present a huge challenge

While UNT is in a good spot heading into the NCAA tournament, it will face a huge challenge in Purdue. 

The Boilermakers are 18-9 and have wins over Ohio State, Michigan State and Minnesota when they were all nationally ranked.  

Trevion Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward, is averaging 15.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. 

Freshman center Zach Edey is 7-4 and 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

UNT hung with Mississippi State, West Virginia and Loyola Chicago earlier this season before falling.

Purdue will be just as talented as those teams.

5. The NCAAs could be it for UNT's core 

The NCAA tournament has the feeling of a now-or-never situation for UNT's core group of seniors who have helped elevate the program.

Senior forward Zachary Simmons said earlier this season that he is leaning toward not taking advantage of the additional season of eligibility the NCAA granted seniors due to the coronavirus pandemic.  He is thinking about hiring an agent and pursuing pro opportunities.

Point guard Javion Hamlet will also have pro opportunities. 

UNT has six seniors. This could be the Mean Green's best opportunity to break through in the NCAA tournament. 

Chances are UNT's team will look quite a bit different next year. 

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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