TCU has a date in Madison Square Garden and a championship it’s trying to win.
But first, coach Jamie Dixon had to make a travel stop closer to his heart before he took the Horned Frogs to New York City for an NIT semifinal game against Texas.
The Horned Frogs practiced at West Point, New York, in part to honor Dixon’s late sister, Maggie. Maggie Dixon died at age 28 from heart arrhythmia in April 2006. Just weeks before, she led Army to its first women’s NCAA Tournament. The Maggie Dixon Classic was played this season on TCU’s campus, and Jamie Dixon has found a way to keep his sister’s legacy strong in college basketball.
He has his own chance to leave New York a winner, and the No. 1 seed Horned Frogs (23-13) can take the first step by defeating second-seeded Texas (19-16) for the third time this season. The Texas two-sweep was needed for Dixon’s program, but a 7-11 mark overall against Big 12 Conference opponents during the regular season kept TCU out of the NCAA Tournament.
“Our guys are going to have to get through this disappointment and get ready to play,” Dixon said when the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced. “I’m sure they will. They’re competitors. The best way to get through it is to show you deserve it and go do something about it.”
Fueled by the snub, the Horned Frogs stormed past Sam Houston State, Nebraska and Creighton to get the shot on Tuesday night at knocking off the Longhorns and playing for a title.
Dixon led the Horned Frogs to the NCAA Tournament last season, so while an NIT bid might seem like a step back, it’s still postseason play for a program that has only eight appearances in the tourney. TCU’s loss in the first round last season was its first game as part of March Madness since 1998. TCU cracked the preseason AP Top 25 for the first time in two decades to open this season.
Later in the day, reports surfaced the Dixon and Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin are the leading candidates for the opening at UCLA.
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