By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 8, 2015) — For the fourth time in Tarleton State history and the first since 2008, the South Central Region Championship is coming to Stephenville.
Lone Star Conference regular-season champion Tarleton won the bid to host the regional tournament, part of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship, and celebrated quietly with a few dozen fans who gathered at Wisdom Gym to watch the selection show Sunday night.
“It’s exciting to bring the regional tournament back to Stephenville. It’s exciting for our university, our fans and our community,” said 27th year Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman. “I hope everyone will come out and support us and enjoy what should be a great basketball tournament.”
Eight teams compete in eight regions to make up the 64 team championship field. Regional winners advance to the Elite Eight in Evansville, Indiana March 25-28.
Tarleton opens regional play against No. 8 seed St. Mary’s Saturday evening with game times to be announced Monday by the Tarleton athletic communications department. Tarleton will be in the second session with two games in each session.
The early session will feature No. 2-seed Metropolitan State College-Denver against No. 7 Midwestern State and No. 3 Texas A&M-Commerce against No. 6 Angelo State. The other game in the evening session is between No. 4 Colorado-Colorado Springs and No. 5 Colorado School of Mines.
“This is as tough a regional field as I’ve seen in years. It could be the toughest we’ve been in,” said Reisman. “Any of these teams could beat each other on any given night. There are no easy wins, and there shouldn’t be at this time of year. It’s do-or-die now, and that’s what March Madness is all about.”
Here is the tournament bracket:
Metro State hosted and won the last two South Central regionals and was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season champion. Midwestern State won the previous three regionals and this season finished third in the LSC.
Texas A&M-Commerce and Angelo State is a rematch of Saturday’s LSC Championship final, won by TAMUC. Colorado Springs won the RMAC Shootout, and St. Mary’s won the Heartland Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
The conference tournament winners each received automatic bids to the Division II playoffs, while the other five are at-large selections.
Tarleton hosted regional tournaments in 2003, 2004 and 2008. The Texans lost in the 2003 regional final to Northeastern State, then a member of the LSC and the last league representative to win the national championship. Drury (Mo.) defeated Tarleton in overtime in a regional semifinal in 2004, and Central Oklahoma erased a 15-point second-half deficit to top the Texans in the final in 2008.
Tarleton won regionals at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2005 and at Southwest Baptist (Mo.) in 2006. The Texans have reached the regional for the sixth straight year and the 12th time in school history, all over the last 14 years.
Tarleton is 14-9 all-time in regional tournament play and 15-11 overall in the Division II Championship. That includes reaching the semifinals at the 2005 Elite Eight and dropping a quarterfinal game at the 2006 Elite Eight.
Tarleton assistant athletic director Susan Burton announced ticket prices immediately following the unveiling of the regional bracket:
-Reserved seats (purple chair-back seats) are $40 and current reserved ticket holders have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to claim their seats. They will be opened to the public for purchase at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
-General admission tournament passes for all sessions are $25 for adults and $10 for students.
-Individual session (two sessions Saturday, one Sunday and one Tuesday) tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students.
-Seats must be purchased for everyone age 2 and up.
The Tarleton women entered the week ranked eighth in the South Central Region but were denied a spot in the playoffs because regionally unranked Colorado Christian won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Full playoff brackets are available at ncaa.com.