If Friday's media mock bracket for the 2014 NCAA Tournament mirrors real life on Selection Sunday, the state of Texas will not endure a second consecutive shutout in this year's Big Dance.
Based on voting by a 12-member media panel, with hypothetical results in conference tournaments supplied by NCAA administrators, the Lone Star State landed three schools in the 68-team field: Texas, SMU and Stephen F. Austin. In addition, the Big 12 landed seven teams in the tournament, most of any conference.
No. 19 Texas (19-5, 8-3 in Big 12) and No. 23 SMU (19-5, 8-3 in American Athletic Conference) received at-large berths in the field. SFA (23-2, 12-0 in Southland) was added as the projected winner of the Southland Conference tournament.
If that holds true when actual berths are assigned March 16, that would represent a major turnaround from last year, when Texas' Division I programs went 0-for-21 in efforts to earn berths in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. It marked the first NCAA Tournament without a school from Texas since 1977.
In the mock bracket, Texas received a fifth seed in the South Regional, where the Longhorns would be paired against the winner of a â€œFirst Fourâ€ game between Missouri and Providence. Texas' first two tournament games would be played in Orlando, Fla,. the same venue where SFA -- the No. 13 seed in the South -- would face fourth-seed Wisconsin.
SMU, a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Regional, was targeted for an opening matchup against ninth-seed George Washington in St. Louis.
In addition to Texas, the Big 12 teams that joined the mock bracket (with seeds) include: Kansas (2), Iowa State (4), Kansas State (6), Oklahoma (7), Oklahoma State (10) and West Virginia (11). The Mountaineers, one of the last four at-large teams in the field, were targeted for a "First Four" matchup against Tennessee in Dayton, Ohio, with the winner advancing to face sixth-seed Connecticut in the South Regional.
The 2014 tournament will conclude April 5-7 with the Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. NCAA officials announced Friday that they will distribute 200,000 clear plastic bags in various locations in D-FW during the week of the Final Four because the games will be played at an NFL stadium and NFL policy regarding fans bringing personal items into the arena (clear bag required) will be in effect in Arlington.
_ Jimmy Burch