I originally posted this over on the 12th Street, but I think it is worth repeating.
The Sam Houston State basketball team will begin its run to the NCAA Tournament on Thursday when they take on McNeese at 2:30 p.m. at the Merrell Center in Katy in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament.
But before we get to that, I will be doing what any fan of the Southland and the NCAA Tournament should be doing, rooting for as many mid-majors to make the dance as possibly. As George Mason showed in 2006 when they made their improbable run to the Final Four, the mids can be dangerous in the Dance.
We all love to watch teams like Valpo, Santa Clara, Butler, Richmond and Northwestern State pull off the big win on Thursday or Friday of the Dance. It just makes for a more exciting game when one of these 11, 12 or 13 seeds is about to knock off a big dog. Face it, when a team like NC State is sitting at No. 11 and taking on No. 6 Michigan State there isn't much of an interest in the game. But if it is George Mason trying to pull off the upset, it captivates a nation.
Tonight was a big night for the mids, and for fans who don't want to see and 11th seeded Syracuse team on Thursday morning when they are skipping work next week. First in the WCC. Gonzaga is in. They are always in. The Zags have been the poster boys for the mid majors the last 10 years.
Last night San Deigo knocked off St. Mary's (who will probably get in the dance as well) put themselves in position to possibly steal a bid in the conference final against the Zags. Playing on their home court, USD pulled off the upset, most likely giving the West Coast Conference three bids next week.
Then in the Slum Belt, South Alabama (26-6) was the prohibitive favorite to get the bid out of what was going to be a one-bid league. However, Middle Tennessee put an end to that with a win in the SBC semis. While Gonzaga is a lock, South Alabama will have to wait until Sunday to learn their fate, but they will most likely get in over a mediocre major conference school.