Kelvin Sampson and the University of Houston Cougars secured the program’s second-ever No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a tough loss to Memphis in the AAC Championship Game on Sunday.
Kelvin Sampson and the University of Houston Cougars secured the program’s second-ever No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a tough loss to Memphis in the AAC Championship Game on Sunday.

All roads to the Final Four lead directly to Houston this year.

But for basketball fans in the area, there is a much more vested interest in this year’s NCAA Tournament with a few teams from Texas seeming to have a great shot at reaching the Final Four at NRG Stadium.

The University of Houston Cougars appear to be a favorite to compete for the national championship in their own backyards after being awarded the No.1 seed in the Midwest Region. It’s just the second time in school history the Cougars have received a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

But the Coogs are far from alone in the race to Houston with Texas having seven schools in this year’s 68-team NCAA Tournament field. The second-seeded Texas Longhorns have been impressive this season and seem to be playing their best basketball at the right time, as they come into the Tournament having stunned Kansas in the Big 12 Championship Game. An Elite Eight showdown between the Cougars and Longhorns could be in the making.

Texas A&M is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018, following a strong run through the SEC Tournament that ended with a loss to No.1 seed Alabama in the championship game.

Also making a third-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament are Johnny Jones’ surprising Texas Southern Tigers, who will face Fairleigh Dickinson in a First Four game Wednesday for the right to face No.1 seed Purdue in the East Region. The Tigers have won their play-in game the last two years to advance to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

TSU, which lost its final three regular-season games, made it this season by running to the SWAC Tournament championship as the No.8 seed. It is the first time in SWAC history that an eighth seed won the conference tournament.

Here is a look at the teams from around the state who are playing in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

University of Houston

Record: 31-3

Seed: No.1

Region: Midwest

First up: No. 16 Northern Kentucky, Thursday

Prospects for advancing: There is considerable debate whether the Cougars deserved the second overall No.1 seed over Kansas, but they can quiet that with another strong run. UH will need to get star guard Marcus Sasser (groin) back healthy because the road to Houston will get real tough in the second round where the winner of the Iowa/Auburn first round matchup awaits.

Texas Southern

Record: 14-20

Seed: 16

Region: East

First up: No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, Wednesday

Prospects for advancing: As expected, the Tigers will have to win a First Four game in order to make the official 64-team NCAA Tournament field where No.1 Purdue awaits the winner in the first round on Friday. TSU has won its play-in game the last two years and will be looking to make it three straight. The Tigers are led by seniors PJ Henry, John Walker III and Joirdon Karl Nicholas, who are in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.

Texas A&M

Record: 25-9

Seed: 7

Region: Midwest

First up: No. 10 Penn State, Thursday

Prospects for advancing: The thought was the Aggies would be seeded a little higher, but the blowout loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game perhaps dropped them down in the minds of the NCAA Selection Committee. They have a tough first-round draw to start, facing a dangerous Penn State team. But even if the Aggies survive the first-round, they will likely face old Big 12 rival No.2 Texas in the second round.

University of Texas

Record: 26-8

Seed: 2

Region: Midwest

First up: No. 15 Colgate, Thursday

Prospects for advancing: Interim coach Rodney Terry’s Longhorns could be a sleeper in the Tournament after a stronger than expected season, which was capped when they stunned No.3 and Big 12 favorite Kansas to capture the Big 12 Tournament championship for just the second time in school history. Look for the Longhorns and Cougars to meet for the right to come to Houston for the Final Four.


Record: 22-10

Seed: 3

Region: South

First up: No. 14 UC Santa Barbara, Friday

Prospects for advancing: The Bears are again talented but perhaps not as talented as some other team. But you can never completely count out any of Scott Drew’s teams, which are usually scrappy and capable of winning big games in March and April. Baylor can score with most, but their biggest deficiency is defense and that is important at this time of the year.


Record: 21-12

Seed: 6

Region: West

First up: No. 11 Arizona State/Nevada winner, Friday

Prospects for advancing: It doesn’t look good for the Horned Frogs big man Eddie Lampkin Jr. has quit the team over an apparent issue with the coach, which means they will have to rely more heavily on their transition game with Mike Miles leading the fast-breaks. TCU will definitely need more from Charles O’Bannon if they hope to advance.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Record: 23-10

Seed: 16

Region: South

First up: No. 16 SE Missouri State, Tuesday

Prospects for advancing: The Islanders won their second straight Southland Conference Tournament championship to secure the league’s automatic NCAA bid. They went into their NCAA First Four matchup having won 12 of their last 13 games. Should the Islanders advance to the 64-team NCAA field, they will face overall No.1 seed Alabama in the first round on Thursday.