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7 Texas teams are in the NCAA Men’s tournament – here’s what to expect

Markus Spiske / via Pexels

On Tuesday night, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi beat Southeast Missouri State 75-71, officially kicking off the Men’s NCAA tournament and more importantly, March Madness.

After their win, the Islanders are headed to the Round of 64, featuring heavyweights like Duke and Kansas – and they won’t be the only team from Texas heading to the big dance.

Joseph Hoyt, a sports reporter with the Dallas Morning News, joined the Texas Standard to preview the tournament. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: This is going to be an exciting one for Texas with the round of 64 kicking off Thursday. What are the big storylines or games we should be watching?

Joseph Hoyt: Yeah, I think the big one here is the possible matchup in the second round between Texas and Texas A&M. That’s obviously something that impartial Texas fans want to see – it’s a matchup between the Aggies and the Longhorns. And if A&M can beat Penn State, a team that’s pretty challenging, they could advance. And then if Texas can hold on and avoid a 15-2 upset, that’d be a fun matchup to have later on in the bracket. You could see Texas or Texas A&M versus Houston, who is the No. 1 seed in that region. So those are a couple of fun matchups out of that region.

Well, by my count, there are seven teams from Texas in the tournament right now, including No. 1 seed University of Houston. Are people expecting Houston to win it all?

There’s a lot of people that do. And you know, I think it’s interesting because obviously the final four will be in Houston. So it’s happened a couple of times where teams in host cities go all the way. And obviously that’s something that could be fun. Houston has been a team that’s been on the precipice of a national championship for a couple of years now, and Kelvin Sampson and Marcus Sasser – they would love to see that actually come to fruition this year.

You know, with March Madness, one of the other factors that a lot of people get excited about is the Cinderella teams – these are the underdogs that seem to go pretty far in the tournament. You spotting any potential Cinderella?

Yeah, I think a team like Furman in round one – a 13-seed that can really shoot the three – that’s a team to watch. They would eventually have a tough matchup against Alabama, the No. 1 seed in the overall seeding for the entire tournament. But that’s a team I’m looking at. I’m also looking at Memphis, who is an eight seed, and this is kind of the duality of March Madness. They could lose in round one to Florida Atlantic or they could go on a run. They have former SMU all-conference player of the year Kendric Davis, and they appear dangerous.

You know, I have to ask because I mentioned the No. 1 seed University of Houston. You mentioned Alabama, which is No. 1 seed, what, overall? Could you clarify? Did I get it wrong about Houston?

Yeah, so Houston’s the second No. 1 seed – so when you get into the seedings, there’s a little bit of a difference in value there, too. So Alabama is the No. 1 overall seed.

Got it, but of course, the eyes of a lot of folks here in Texas are on Houston, naturally. Another team I wanted to ask about and dig a little deeper on: You were talking about UT Austin. They’re a two seed headed into the tournament. This past Saturday, they beat Kansas, ranked number one in the tournament. Does UT Austin have a chance to finish on top here, you think?

I think they do, because the most important thing about basketball at this time is how are you playing? Are you peaking or are you sinking? And Texas appears to be a team that’s peaking. And it’s pretty incredible, after Chris Beard was fired, they have an interim in Rodney Terry, and you kind of expect that thing to go south. Instead, they’ve been progressing nicely. And with Marcus Carr and Rodney Terry leading the way, this is a team that appears really dangerous.

Any other Texas teams we should keep an eye on?

Yeah, keep an eye on Baylor, because I think it’s interesting because we just talked about playing your best basketball in March, and they were knocked down in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. But this is a team with a lot of pedigree. Obviously, they won the national championship a couple of years ago, and they’re a team that, if they get hot and figure things out, you never know.

Do you have any final thoughts or advice for listeners out there putting their brackets together?

Yeah, honestly, randomness helps. You know, there’s been plenty of teams that just let their babies pick games. And next thing you know, that team ends up being a pretty good winner. So randomness helps, you know, cut yourself some slack and hope for the best.

I like that strategy. Cut yourself some slack. Randomness helps. It doesn’t seem like the most scientific approach, but that’s just part of the joy of the game, right? 

Yeah, that’s March Madness for you.

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Sean Saldana