Kelvin Sampson did not take long at all to notice a potential road game-like atmosphere for his Houston team.

“Who’s the 8-9 in our bracket? Birmingham, right,” Sampson said when asked Sunday about Houston’s tournament draw, via “So Auburn gets to play in Birmingham? Maybe we should have been a 9-seed.”

Houston has long been considered a favorite to win the national championship, and Sampson noted how his team as a 1-seed will get a potentially difficult environment for its second-round game.

Of course, Houston could be faced with a role reversal if the Cougars can reach the Final Four in their hometown.

“You know what? Congrats — first of all, congratulations to every school that made the tournament,” Sampson said. “I never lose sight of how hard it is to make the tournament, regardless of your seed. There’s some really good teams this year that had great years that came up just a little bit short. Might have been because of an injury, might have been they lost a heartbreaker because of free throws or somebody throw up a shot at the buzzer, whatever. But it’s hard to make the tournament…. Every game is hard. Hard to make the tournament. It’s hard to win a game in the tournament.

“But we’re honored. We’re honored to make it. We’re honored to be a 1 seed. But our kids have earned the right to be a 1 seed. Happy for our program, but more importantly, I’m happy for our kids who did all the work.”

The Cougars lost their conference title game Sunday, and a main question for the Cougars will be the status of Marcus Sasser, the team’s leading scorer who left Saturday’s game early after sliding awkwardly and hurting his groin.