Back in March, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was a lonely place for Texas. Just three teams from the state grabbed bids, and two were knocked out in the first round.
That won’t be a problem next week at the NCAA baseball tournament. A minimum of seven Texas teams already have done enough to earn invitations when the 64-team field is revealed Monday, and as many as 11 might pop up in the bracket.
Big 12 co-champions Texas Tech and TCU are front-runners for top-eight national seeds given to teams in line to be at home for super regionals. It’s a foregone conclusion that the Red Raiders and Horned Frogs will be regional hosts next weekend.
Texas and Baylor are tournament locks, with the fast-closing Longhorns still having a shot at being a regional host if they win the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. They are just one victory from reaching the title game.
More likely, the Horns will be a No. 2 seed, and projections have them heading into SEC country — Baton Rouge, La., or Fayetteville, Ark. — or west to Long Beach, Calif., or perhaps Tucson, if Arizona hangs on to a national top-16 spot.
Texas A&M, despite its early elimination from the SEC Tournament, and Houston, unbeaten in the AAC Tournament, are in excellent shape to receive NCAA berths.
Texas Southern has punched its ticket. The Tigers, after finishing with the SWAC’s fourth-best record, got hot at the right time and swept through four games in the conference tournament to secure the automatic bid.
Rice, which had a disappointing regular season, is rolling in the Conference USA Tournament, having reached the semifinals in Hattiesburg, Miss., without a scrape. The Owls are likely to face Charlotte for the league’s automatic bid.
Dallas Baptist, an NCAA regular, is storming through the Missouri Valley Tournament in Terre Haute, Ind. The Patriots, who finished second in the league, are on a collision course with regular-season champ Missouri State, which will make the NCAAs regardless.
Sam Houston State is 2-0 in the Southland Tournament in Sugar Land, outscoring opponents 21-5 and already in the semifinals. Regular-season champ McNeese State has been eliminated, so the road is open for the Bearkats.
Texas also could supply a team from the Sun Belt, as West Division winner UT-Arlington and underdog Texas State were still alive in a rain-plagued tournament in Statesboro, Ga. Defending national champ Coastal Carolina will get a bid, win or lose.
The Big 12 should have six invitations secured — the four Texas teams, Oklahoma and West Virginia — but if Oklahoma State or Kansas wins the tournament championship, a seventh bid will be bagged. The Cowboys need just one more win to make the title game.
Of all these Big 12 and Texas teams, it’s entirely possible only Tech and TCU will be regional hosts next weekend.
If there is a third host from this region, Texas stands the best chance now that Oklahoma has played its way out of consideration. The Longhorns’ case is helped by the early elimination from the ACC Tournament of potential hosts Clemson and Wake Forest.
Oregon State, North Carolina, Florida, Louisville, LSU and Stanford look like the top national seeds, joined by the Red Raiders and Horned Frogs.
Monday: Selection Show, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
June 2-5: Regionals at 16 sites
June 9-12: Super regionals at eight sites
June 17-28: College World Series
For Big 12 and Texas teams:
No. 1: Texas Tech, TCU
No. 2: Texas, Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma, West Virginia
No. 3: Texas A&M, *Rice, *Dallas Baptist
No. 4: Texas Southern, *Sam Houston, *UT-Arlington (or Texas State)
* If team qualifies by winning league’s automatic bid.