Both the University of Central Arkansas Bears and Sugar Bears begin their postseason quests this week at Katy, Texas, in the Southland Conference basketball tournaments.
The seventh-seeded Bears (16-15) will play sixth-seeded Lamar (19-12) at 7:30 p.m.
The third-seeded Sugar Bears (21-8) will play either Abilene Christian or New Orleans in the women's quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
'"A goal of our was to have a winning season," said UCA coach Russ Pennell via phone while on the bus to Texas at Monday's weekly Bearbacker luncheon. "I hope we play well enough to get futher opportunities.
"Of the seven men's teams in the tournament, we have beaten five of them. We've had one of the tougher schedules in the conference. We've play the top teams eight times, so we've been battle tested. We should go in with a lot of confidence."
The men's championship game is 8 p.m. Saturday.
To win the championship and the automatic NCAA bid, the Bears would have to win four games in four days, including Lamar and possibly Stephen F. Austin, Nicholls and regular-season champion Southeastern Louisiana in that order.
"I'm not sure we'll be able to rest," Pennell said. "It's like the seventh game of the World Series when you pitch the whole bullpen. You've got to win the game that day and not worry about playing the next day.
"But when it won the national championship a few years ago, UConn won five games in five days in the Big East tournament. Adrenaline has to take over."
The Sugar Bears got a bye into the quarterfinals. The women's championship game is noon Sunday.
"We like where we are, the way the bracket is set, we may have to play some of the teams that have been hot of late," said associate head coach Greg Long, subbing for Sandra Rushing. " But our women are starting to play really hard even if everything is not going right. They want to be coached and that is what coach Rushing has been waiting to see."
Brad Teague, UCA's athletic director, said both teams may have a chance to play in some invitational tournaments if they don't make the NCAA field. Those tourney fields are selected from teams remaining after the NCAA, NIT and WNIT fields are set.
"As long as you have a winning record," Teague said. "That's no issue with the Sugar Bears. The men have a shot if they have a winning record and because of Jordan Howard (SLC Player of the Year)."