Tarleton faces familiar opposition in NCAA tourney

Phil Riddle phil.riddle@empiretribune.com Twitter @ETSports
Tarleton's most prolific scorer, senior Mo Lee, leads the Texans against a field of largely known opponents in the weekend NCAA Division II South Central region tournament. The event, which opens with quarterfinal games on Saturday, is hosted by TSU.

By this time in the college basketball season the wheat has been separated from the chaff and the teams left over can be very knowledgeable about their postseason opponents.

That’s the case with Tarleton State, which enters the weekend NCAA Division II South Central Regional tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Texans, carrying a 27-3 season record into the event, have first-hand knowledge of four of the seven teams they could possibly face on their home floor.

Of course, Lone Star Conference foes Midwestern State, Angelo State and Texas A&M Commerce are well-known quantities. The Texans faced those three teams seven times this season and have posted a 4-3 mark against them, including three of four in Stephenville.

Tarleton split with both Midwestern State and Angelo State and swept Commerce in the regular season before being ousted from the LSC tournament by the Lions.

In addition, St. Mary’s, Tarleton’s opposition in the 6 p.m. Saturday quarterfinal battle, faced the Texans in a December matchup. Tarleton downed the Rattlers 75-64 during the early phase of the campaign, part of a 12-0 season-opening win streak.

Assuming a win for the No. 1 Texans over the No. 8 Rattlers, Tarleton has to get past a new foe to possibly move back into charted waters.

The winner of the quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 seed Colorado/Colorado Springs and fifth seed Colorado Mines awaits the TSU-St. Mary’s winner in the semifinals.

And neither of those are easy outs. Colorado/Colorado Springs, which advanced from a No. 21 national ranking last week to No. 10 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches weekly poll this week, exploded and won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament, the first in program history.

The Mountain Lions carry a 26-5 record into the tournament and have won seven of their last eight games, including a three-game sweep at the conference tourney.

Colorado Mines, brings a 23-4 mark into regionals. Winning eight of its last 10 games before falling to Adams State in the RMAC postseason tournament.

In the upper half of the regional bracket, the lone stranger to the Texans is Metro State of Denver, a dangerous No. 2 seed. The Roadrunners’ 26-5 record reflects regular season losses to Colorado-Colorado Springs, Colorado Mines and a tournament ouster by the Mountain Lions.

Metro State earned the tournament’s second seed by winning 14 of its last 16 games and was in line to host the regional tournament before falling to Colorado/Colorado Springs in the RMAC final.