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March Madness: Will Texas Tech Be Dancing?

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The Red Raiders have an overall record of 18-11 and some quality wins to boot. Have they done enough to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt Tubby Smith and his basketball team have exceeded everyone's, I do mean everyone's, expectations this season. Texas Tech has already won 18 games and placed 7th in the Big 12 after they were picked to finish dead last. Even until this past Saturday Tech had a chance to be 6th in the conference.

Currently Texas Tech is projected to be an 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi of ESPN. My money is on dancing this year, but I will make the case on both sides and let you decide for yourself. Here are three reasons why Tech should be in and three reasons why Tech should be out.

The Case For In

  1. 18 wins with a lot of quality mixed in. Tech has beaten 4 ranked teams this season which includes Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. Tech also beat North Dakota State and Arkansas-Little Rock, both are having 20 plus win seasons.
  2. Currently Texas Tech's RPI is #24 in the country. If you do not know, RPI is how teams are ranked based on their wins/losses and their strength of schedule. RPI ranking is important to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and Tech has a good one.
  3. As I write this Texas Tech has the 2nd toughest strength of schedule in the country. This means the Red Raiders have won 18 games against  a schedule that is tougher than 346 other division one basketball teams.

The Case For Out

  1. Not many quality road wins. The selection committee does take winning on the road seriously. Tech beat a ranked Baylor team on road which will be looked on favorably by the selection folks. Tech's other conference road wins include Oklahoma State and TCU and are nothing to write home about. Tech also won against Mississippi St and Minnesota in Puerto Rico, but both of those teams are having less than stellar seasons.
  2. Bad Losses. Tech does have some bad losses they will be judged on. Sometimes these types of losses hurt more than average wins help. In my opinion we have two bad losses, Kansas State and Arkansas. Some would say a tournament worthy team should have won those games.
  3. Finishing 7th in the conference. The Big 12 may be the best conference, but will the selection committee want to take 7 teams from one conference? Especially if that 7th team is at or below a .500 conference record. Currently Tech is 8-9 in conference with one to play. So if Tech loses to KSU on Saturday they would finish at 8-10. This is probably the scariest argument for me.

The Season Isn't Over Yet

Luckily for the Red Raiders, at a minimum, they have two winnable games left to play. KSU at home on Saturday and then TCU in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. Win both of those and they will be dancing for sure. But lose one or both and they will have just thrown themselves to the mercy of the selection committee. Either way you feel, there is no denying Tubby Smith has brought Texas Tech basketball back from the dead!