Before printing out those NCAA brackets, there’s some unfinished business to sort out on Selection Sunday.
Five conferences will hold tournament championship games before the 68-team March Madness field is revealed in a 90-minute CBS show starting at 4:30 p.m.
To nearly everyone’s surprise, Texas State is in one of them. The Bobcats blew out top seed UT-Arlington 83-62 in a Sun Belt semifinal at New Orleans. If Texas State (20-12) beats Troy (21-14) on Sunday (1 p.m., ESPN2), the Bobcats go dancing.
Texas State was a 17-1 shot in Las Vegas to win the conference tournament and was given a 6.6 percent chance of pulling it off, according to teamrankings.com. The Bobcats entered the day with an RPI computer rating of 192. UT-Arlington was 37th.
The Bobcats have made only two NCAA trips, in 1994 and ’97.
If they punch their third ticket, they will be a No. 15 or 16 seed, playing one of the superpowers in the first round, according to Planting the Seeds, the American-Statesman projections.
SMU will be playing Sunday, too. But the Mustangs, facing the Cincinnati-UConn winner in the AAC title game, have nothing to sweat. SMU, 12th in the Associated Press Top 25, might be a No. 4 seed, and by Monday it could be the highest-ranked team in Texas.
Another Texas team didn’t even have to show up for its championship game to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Southern booked its bid in the most unusual way. Alcorn State, the Tigers’ opponent in the SWAC finale, is on probation and ineligible for the NCAAs. Texas Southern (21-11) certainly deserved the spot, winning the SWAC regular season by three games with a 16-2 record.
Baylor, the Big 12’s third-place team, knows it’s going dancing, although the ninth-ranked Bears have been trending downward with a 3-4 record in their last seven games and 5-6 in the last 11. Once a No. 1 seed, Baylor now looks like a No. 3, probably in the East or South Region.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is the only other state team that had a chance of making it. The Islanders (20-10) played New Orleans (19-11) in the Southland Tournament title game late Saturday in Katy, a matchup of the top teams in the league. A loss would leave Corpus hoping for an NIT or CIT bid.
On the larger scale, defending national champion Villanova and Big 12 king Kansas appeared to have two of the four top seeds nailed down. Many bracketologists are giving the other two No. 1s to ACC regular-season champ North Carolina and 30-1 Gonzaga. Not so fast …
“We still have six teams in the discussion,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA Tournament vice president, told CBS Sports.
Duke and Oregon, possibly even Arizona, are believed to be the other teams. They each played in tournament title games late Saturday.
Gavitt also mentioned that there were fewer teams than usual in contention for the precious final bids.
“We probably have about eight to 10 for three or four spots,” he said.
The Big 12’s Kansas State is one of the toughest calls. Others hovering around the cut line include Syracuse, Rhode Island, Providence, Illinois State, USC and California.
In recent years the selection committee has bent over backward for power conference schools, which bodes well for K-State, the Cuse and the Pac-12.
We’ll know soon.
Selection Sunday: 68-team field revealed, 4:30-6 p.m., CBS
Tuesday-Wednesday: First Four doubleheaders, Dayton, Ohio
Thursday-March 19: Early-round games at eight sites
March 23-26: Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games at four sites
April 1, 3: Final Four at Glendale, Ariz.
Note: NCAA Women’s Tournament field will be announced at 6 p.m. Monday on ESPN.