March Madness has a lot of Lone Star flavor this year. A record seven Texas schools made the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year, and the Final Four is in San Antonio. One of the best story lines is TCU, which plays its first tournament game in 20 years tonight in Detroit.
In our Friday Conversation, KERA caught up with Brian Estridge, the play-by-play voice of the Horned Frogs.
On the players’ excitement:
“They're ecstatic. Think about the players who made a commitment to come to TCU to play, and the fact that they did that based on a team that didn't have any track record, had no real history of being in the postseason. Yet, they bought into what [coach] Jamie Dixon was selling. Last year he takes them to the NIT [National Invitation Tournament], and they win the NIT championship, and then this year pays off with the NCAA tournament.”
On why so many Texas teams made the field:
“I think the way high school basketball has changed over the last decade in the state of Texas is phenomenal. I don't mean this as a slam on anyone or any program over the years, but I think prior to that, you had assistant football coaches coaching basketball to get them through. Now, I think there's been a real emphasis on the sport of basketball in the state of Texas.
"It's probably a little over-recruited as far as basketball is concerned. There are so many athletes in the state. You look at the metro areas of Dallas and Houston, and how successful those programs have been in playing basketball. I think that's where you point to. The high school level has really made a difference when it comes to college basketball, and let's face it, it is a sports-crazy state so they love a winner.”
On why the Final Four frequents Texas:
“I think the climate obviously helps. Folks love going to San Antonio, Houston and Dallas... I think they love the fact that they can do more than just go to the games; there are other tourist events around those. I also think it's the fact that you've got a sports-crazy place that folks are going to turn out in big numbers and the NCAA loves to be a part of that. That's why college basketball has found a second home, if you will, in the state of Texas.”