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Path to the Postseason: Survive and Advance

A Narrow Win Over Rice Keeps the Red Raiders Afloat

NCAA Basketball: Rice at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After barely edging Rice at home on Saturday, Tech dominated UTSA on Wednesday to move to 8-1 on the season. A loss to Rice would have been devastating, so a win by any margin is a huge sigh of relief. “Survive and advance” is a phrase resurrected every March, but there are also games in December that conjure that same mindset.

Strength of Schedule

Only four of the teams in Tech’s rearview mirror currently have winning records, so this isn’t a strong point on the resume yet. Those records could improve once conference play begins, but strength of schedule is unfortunately still not impressive.

Conference Strength

Kansas and Baylor are currently top 5 teams. West Virginia will be in the top 15 next week and if Iowa State win Saturday, they’ll stay ranked. TCU were on the verge of being ranked before losing to SMU, while Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State continue to beat the teams they should. Texas lost a close game at Michigan, which will end up being a solid result for them. Overall, the Big 12 conference is probably the second best in the nation.

Peaks and Valleys

The Auburn loss is still the only one on record, so it is by default the worst loss. The Rice win is arguably Tech’s best thus far, which won’t catch the national audience’s attention. When the Red Raiders win their first Big 12 game, they’ll have a new “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.

Iowa State @ Iowa

What Tech Needs: Iowa State enters the game ranked #25, so a loss to their rivals would probably drop them from the AP rankings. Tech benefits from the Big 12 being a strong conference, so root for a narrow Iowa State win here.

Nicholls @ Florida State

What Tech Needs: Florida State are hovering around the top 25 and Nicholls come to Lubbock soon. An upset here would both knock Florida State down and give Nicholls added credibility. Root for Nicholls here, but even a close loss would be a beneficial result for the Red Raiders.

Wichita State vs Oklahoma

What Tech Needs: Tech and OU could jockey for position down the stretch both in the Big 12 standings and tournament seeding. Still, a Sooner win here would be another boost for the Big 12, which is what Tech needs this early in the season.

Utah @ Xavier

What Tech Needs: Xavier were just upset by Colorado, so a Utah win here would presumably carry a little less weight. With that said, Utah are a team that should hover around the tournament cutoff, so Tech fans should hope Xavier find their footing and handle Utah in this one.

SFA @ Rice

What Tech Needs: The Red Raiders squeaked by this Rice team over the weekend, so they’ll hope that Rice go on to have a good season. SFA have a new coach, but they’re still a program that have had tremendous success lately, so a Rice win here would make Tech’s win look better.

Long Beach State @ Texas

What Tech Needs: Texas has a couple “good” losses and a couple questionable ones. A loss here would drop them to 4-5 and make their outlook pretty bleak. Tech fans should root for Texas to win this game by any margin because they stand to gain very little from a win.

Auburn vs Boston College

What Tech Needs: Auburn handed the Red Raiders their only loss so far, so Tech fans should be hoping Auburn run the table and win the SEC. At the least, we need them to handle Boston College and continue to win the games they should.

Tech haven’t done much to help their standing over the last week and won’t have many opportunities to do so in the near future. With final exams coming, the Red Raiders will only play once in the next eight days. Because of this, dozens of other results around the country become even more important.