The countdown is over. “March Madness” is officially here.

Actually, it’s been here for more than a week already.

The masses may believe “March Madness” doesn’t begin until the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tips off next week, but for others, the ‘Madness’ began with conference tournaments last week and continues with the staart of the Division II playoffs this weekend.

Women’s regional tournaments tip off today, and No. 20 Tarleton State will be in one of the eight tournament-opening games.

The TexAnns, the South Central Region’s No. 3 seed, battle sixth-seeded Southeastern Oklahoma State, a team the TexAnns have split two games with this season, at Jack Dobbins Fieldhouse in Tahlequah, Okla.

The winner meets either MIAA?champ Northwest Missouri State, the No. 2 seed, or Lone Star Conference champ Texas Woman’s, the No. 7 seed, in the regional semifinal round at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The TexAnns, who have already won 24 games, their most since joining the NCAA 17 years ago, are in the regional for the third time in the last six years, all under eighth-year head coch Ronnie Hearne.

On the men’s side, No. 17 Tarleton is in the regional for the eighth time in 10 years, all under 23rd-year head coach Lonn Reisman.

The Texans face Midwestern State - a team they have defeated three times - at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Hamilton Fieldhouse in Edmond, Okla.

The winner battles either second-seeded Missouri Southern State, or seventh-seeded Washburn, both of the MIAA.

*See further coverage beginning below and continuing on Page B3.

*See Sunday’s edition of the E-T or for complete opening-round coverage.

*Listen to games live on KSTV 93.1 fm or at