Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock (12859218bx) Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson sets up a play during the first half of a college basketball game against Illinois in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh NCAA Illinois Houston Basketball, Pittsburgh, United States – 20 Mar 2022
Fred Faour: Could Texas have all the teams in the Final Four next year?
The Final Four will be at NRG Stadium next year. We know the Houston Cougars are a legitimate threat as No. 1 in the nation.
Right now, the Cougars are Vegas favorites to win it all. But right behind them? Texas and Baylor.
It might seem far-fetched, but it’s not impossible that at least two, maybe three, and possibly all four teams in the Final Four are from Texas.
The bracket will have to fall the right way. But what if UH, Texas and Baylor all have No. 1 seeds?
Despite Baylor’s early losses, it’s really not a stretch. The Cougars are deserving favorites, and will only get better. People told me after UH scrimmaged Texas that the Horns would be a legit Final Four threat. And Baylor? All they did was win a national title two years back.
The big question is who would be the fourth? Texas Tech? TCU? Texas A&M? The bracket will have to fall perfectly for one of those teams, but it is not a stretch, as long as they don’t wind up in a region with the big three of Texas.
“You go back two years ago, and Baylor and Houston were in the Final Four,” Kelvin Sampson told Andy Yanez of Gallery Sports. “So this is nothing new.
“You start with the fan bases and the coaching staffs,” Sampson said. “Texas Tech almost won the national championship. Then Baylor did (win it). Texas has always had a great basketball program. Jamie Dixon at TCU … Buzz (Williams at A&M).
“That’s the thing that jumps out to me about our state – all the great coaching staffs.”
That’s why this is not a pie-in-the-sky idea. While college basketball has always had an East Coast/Midwest bias, Texas is making its way. A football state is on the verge of owning basketball.
“From a recruiting standpoint,” Sampson said, “there’s a lot of schools around this country that come to our state and recruit our players, but what we are doing a better job of is the best players in Texas are staying in Texas now.”
And that is why UH, Texas and Baylor are so respected by the national media and Vegas. At the top of the hill is Sampson’s Cougars, who are coming off an Elite Eight appearance last year and a Final Four the year before. This could be his best UH team yet.
“There’s no reason for (Texas players) to leave,” Sampson said. “If you want to win a national championship, stay at home.”
Could the Cougars do it? Absolutely. They are unbeaten but have some major tests coming up. All will help them develop into what Sampson hopes is that championship team. Not many teams get to be No. 1. But that’s what these Cougars are.
“If you want to play in the NCAA Tournament, win conference tournaments, stay at home,” Sampson says. “That wasn’t always the case, but it is now.”
And it could even be more than that. Yes, everything has to fall right. But four Texas teams in the Final Four – including the Cougars – in Houston? In NRG?
It’s not just a pipe dream. In fact, it could really happen.
With the Cougars right there in the mix. Just ask coach Sampson.