As an unabashed homer of all things Texas Tech, I bought into the hype when "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi predicted my beloved Red Raiders would appear in the NCAA tournament earlier this season. Even after excruciating losses in the final moments to Baylor and West Virginia, two wins that would have been a major boost, I'm unable to give up on the postseason fantasy just yet. Here's what it's going to take to become a reality:
1. Take Care of Business
This means beating the more beatable teams on the schedule. There are no easy wins in the Big 12 this season, but not everyone is quite as tough as Kansas and Oklahoma. Texas Tech has three remaining home games against Oklahoma State, TCU, and Kansas State. All three of those conference games are must wins. And even though it's a road game, losing to 10-10 Arkansas would be a tough pill to swallow considering they're one of the weaker opponents left on the schedule. So beat the teams you're supposed to beat (or at least have a good chance at beating) is step one.
2. Steal a Couple on the Road
Even as a homer, I know how to be (somewhat) realistic. It's not very likey that Texas Tech rolls into Lawrence and beats the Jayhawks. All road wins are difficult to come by, but there are a couple that are manageable left on the schedule. I've got three remaining road games pegged as "winnable": Baylor in Waco, Texas in Austin, and Oklahoma State in Stillwater. It's a tall task, but stealing two of those three would put you in a pretty good position.
3. One Major Upset
Texas Tech still hosts Oklahoma and Iowa State in Lubbock later this season. With the help of 15,000 screaming fans in the United Supermarkets Arena, you just never know what could happen. An upset of one of these two teams would be the "signature win" the selection committee looks for.
4. End of Season Magic
As stacked as the Big 12 is, it's not crazy to assume seven of its ten teams will make the big dance. If Texas Tech can get the wins outlined above, it will end the regular season with 19 victories, firmly on the bubble. The Red Raiders will likely need at least one win in the Big 12 tournament at the end of the year to solidify their resume. They also might need a little bit of luck around selection time in the form of the NCAA selection committee viewing the Big 12 extremely favorably, other bubble teams finishing the season poorly, etc.
Are the odds good? No. But it's my duty as a loyal homer not to give up until the bitter end.