The Red Raiders continued to roll last night by thumping the Nicholls Colonels 89-46 behind 23 points from Keenan Evans. Coach Beard and the team now travel to face the Richmond Spiders on Saturday. The team’s first true road game of the season will tip off at 11:30am CT, so veteran leadership and experience will be necessary to escape with a win. Beating a solid team on the road would be a big step in the right direction, but before that, let’s look around at other factors currently shaping the Red Raiders’ resume.
Strength of Schedule
According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency margin, Tech is currently ranked 28th overall. However, this ranking comes against the 348th toughest schedule, or 4th easiest, in the entire country. This number shows just how weak the competition has been through 10 games.
The Big 12 currently holds three of the top 12 spots in the AP Poll, with Kansas and Baylor retaining their top 5 status. Iowa State has dropped back a bit and could settle in as the conference’s best second-tier team rather than the worst first-tier team. The other six teams will probably beat up on each other all season. I’d slot the conference 3rd right now behind the ACC and Big Ten.
Peaks and Valleys
The loss to Auburn looks worse now after the Tigers lost in the final seconds to a fairly weak Boston College team earlier this week. Rice is one of only three teams in the nation to have two players averaging over 19 points per game and they just beat a solid SFA team, so they’re still our best win.
7 in 7: Results to Monitor
In this space we’ll point you toward seven games per week that could potentially affect Tech’s standing on Selection Sunday.
Memphis @ Oklahoma
What Tech Needs: OU dropped a close game last weekend to Wichita State, so another loss here would sink their stock a bit. Though Memphis are always a solid team, Oklahoma need to win this for their own sake and for the overall strength of the Big 12.
Arkansas vs Texas
What Tech Needs: Arkansas were one of Joe Lunardi’s last four teams in the latest iteration of his bracket. Texas have played better lately and a Longhorn win here would both bump Arkansas down and give the Big 12 a boost over the SEC, which will be valuable come March.
Rice @ Pittsburgh
What Tech Needs: Pittsburgh joined Arkansas in Lunardi’s December 8th bracket as a “Last Four In” team. Tech barely edged out Rice at home a couple weeks ago. An Owls win or even close loss here would make Tech’s result look better and could be a negative on Pitt’s resume.
Dayton vs Northwestern
What Tech Needs: Northwestern were in the same “Next Four Out” category that Tech fell into, meaning that both teams need to jump roughly 6-8 teams to get into the bracket. Dayton are currently projected to make the tournament, so Tech fans should be rooting for a big Dayton win.
Oklahoma St @ Wichita State
What Tech Needs: The Shockers squeaked by Oklahoma over the weekend and will now host another Big 12 opponent. Usually, Tech fans should root for Big 12 teams to play well against top-level competition, but a Shockers blowout or comfortable win here could knock Oklahoma State down a peg or two, meaning Tech would be that much closer to them.
Auburn vs Oklahoma
What Tech Needs: The Auburn loss could still be seen as a bad one come March, so Red Raider fans should hope the Tigers can topple the Sooners here. Two wrongs may not make a right, but two Big 12 wins could make Auburn look like a better team than they are, which benefits Tech.
Virginia @ California
What Tech Needs: California are currently ranked just ahead of Tech in most projections but host highly ranked Virginia next week. Since the ACC will already likely finish as the nation’s best conference, Tech fans need a big win from Virginia here to knock California backwards and keep the Big 12 above the Pac 12 in terms of conference hierarchy.
Richmond are one of the toughest teams on the schedule so far, and a road win against the Spiders would become Tech’s “best” win. Securing a W over the weekend and then handling a weak Longwood team next Wednesday would leave the team at 11-1 heading into Big 12 play and essentially in control of its own destiny.