Conference: Big 12
Record: 19-12 (9-9)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 8 (Midwest)
How they got to the Big Dance
Texas Tech has earned their first NCAA tournament bid since 2007 and their first bid under head coach Tubby Smith. The Red Raiders went 10-2 in non-conference play, with wins against Hawaii, Arkansas-Little Rock and South Dakota State. TTU also played No. 12 Utah at home, losing 73-63. Their other non-conference loss came in overtime at Arkansas. The Red Raiders were average in Big 12 play, beating teams they should have beaten and grabbing a few upsets. They scored wins against No. 23 Texas, No. 21 Iowa State, No. 22 Baylor and No. 6 Oklahoma. The Red Raiders lost both games to No. 1 Kansas and No. 9 West Virginia. They were knocked out of the Big 12 tournament by No. 10 seed TCU in the first round., which caused their NCAA seeding to take a hit. But, Texas Tech still earned an at-large bid from the committee and are ranked 36th in RPI.
Why they are a legitimate contender
The Red Raiders have a lot of scoring options. There are seven players on Texas Tech’s roster that average over 8.5 points per game. This allows them to spread the floor, which can cause trouble for opposing defenses. The Red Raiders are also adept from the free-throw line. They are ranked 28th in the NCAA in free-throw percentage, shooting 74.6 percent from the line. If TTU is in a game that goes down to the wire, they may be able to pull out a victory with their free throw shooting. This is a team that doesn’t have many eye-popping statistics, but they were able to hold their own in the best conference in the country and were even able to steal a few wins from some of the better teams in the tournament. If they can bring the same competitiveness to the NCAA tournament that they showed in Big 12 play, they might be able to surprise a lot of people.
Why they are not a legitimate contender
No one on this Texas Tech team, apart from coach Tubby Smith, has any NCAA tournament experience. The Red Raiders only have five upperclassmen on their team, and they struggled against the high-caliber teams in the Big 12. If they could not handle the Big 12, they will struggle in the tournament. Texas Tech is also 3-8 against the Top 25 teams in RPI, so it is hard to see them making a run in this year’s tournament. With a below average defense, ranked 93rd in adjusted efficiency by kenpom.com, and a good, but not great offense, ranked 28th in adjusted efficiency, Texas Tech’s chances of winning their first round matchup and then upsetting a No.1 seed seem very slim.
Player to watch – G Toddrick Gotcher
The 6-foot-4 senior scores 11.1 points per game, grabs 3.6 boards per game, records 2.3 assists per game and tallies 1 steal per game. Gotcher is one of four Red Raiders averaging over 10 points per game, and he can have some high-scoring outputs. Texas Tech will need those high-scoring games, because the Red Raiders are 7-1 when Gotcher scores over 15 points. He is shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Gotcher is also very successful from the free-throw line, shooting 85.7 percent, although he only gets to the line about 2.5 times per game. If Gotcher can get to the line a lot for the Red Raiders, it could mean a lot of easy points and maybe even an upset victory.
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