We are on the fringe of the most entertaining sporting event of the year, March Madness. You can argue with me all-day that it is not the best sporting event, but you would be wrong. For the first time since 2007, our Red Raiders will be putting on their dancing shoes. In that year, Avril Lavigne’s smashing album The Best Damn Thing was the top selling album in the world, the first iPhone was released, and Vladimir Putin was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
It has been way too long since the Red Raiders have been partakers in March Madness. Here are just a few quick thoughts:
1) The rejuvenation project from the failed Pat Knight/Billy Gillespie Era is one year ahead of schedule
Remember the preseason rankings that predicted Tech to finish last in the Big 12 this year? It was a joke amongst the majority of media-folk that Tech could even flirt with a tournament bid, let alone make the tournament. Also given that Tech lost big-man Isaiah Manderson four games into the season, the odds were not in Tech’s favor to have the success that they’ve had this year.
This season seemed like it was over after the loss at Texas. That was coming off a blowout loss a week and a half before at Oklahoma, followed by a bad loss at Arkansas. Pour onto the fact that Tech was getting ready to face their toughest stretch of the season, playing in sports’ finest entertainment product in March looked pretty bleak. The psyche of the team seemed down after those games. Then chaos ensued, as Tech beat the #14, #21, and #3 ranked teams in the country consecutively.
Given all of that, and everything that Tech basketball has been through in recent years, it is remarkable that this season has turned out the way it has. Keenan Evans and Aaron Ross have taken gigantic leaps forward. Zach Smith, Norense Odiase and Justin Gray keep accelerating. Toddrick Gotcher keeps being a badass.
I love it when Gotcher pulls up from 28+ feet. There is always guys that shoot erroneous three pointers and you hate it, but with Gotcher its almost like he feels more comfortable the farther he is from the basket. It looks pretty cool too.
Side-note, if Tech is going to have a non-guard take the ball up the court against the press, why can’t it be Justin Gray? It is dreadful to watch any of the big men constantly bring the ball up the floor. The appalling cross court passes combined with picking up dribbles in the corner combined with anyone not named Williams/Gotcher/Evans/Thomas/Williamson/Gray bringing the ball up the floor has got to go.
2) Tubby=Our Savior
Big 12 Coach of the Year. The Sporting News National Coach of the Year. I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.
3) Tech has a better chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament than you may think
Do not pin this back on me if Tech somehow fails to make the tournament or they lose in the first round. However, the logistics add up for the possibility to make a run in the NCAA tournament.
This team is good. Tech had the second most difficult schedule in the country and came out of it with a 19-11 record. That is not easy to do.
In 2015, 9 of the top 10 teams with the most difficult strength of schedule made the NCAA Tournament. 7 of those teams had 9+ losses on the season. 5 of those teams made the Sweet 16.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Tech’s chances to make a run will be the potential first and second round matchups the Red Raiders could face. Tech appears to be in the #8-9 seed range, which means they will be playing another #8-9 seed in the first round. The flip side of that is if they win, they are going to catch possibly a #1 maybe a #2 seed in the second round. Call that a good problem.
Tech is going to be a dangerous tournament team because they play as one. The offense is quite the pleasure to watch when its flowing and everyone is involved. It is like watching Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Beautiful.
It is a common happening in the tournament nowadays for lower seeded teams to make runs. In 2015, 7th-seeded Michigan State was a Final Four team. In 2014, a 7th-seeded UConn played 8th-seeded Kentucky in the National Championship. In 2013, 9th-seeded Wichita State made the Final Four. In 2011, Shaka Smart’s 11th-seeded VCU team made the Final Four.
THIS COULD HAPPEN!
It is entirely possible for this team to make a run deep into the tournament. Depending on their first and second round matchups, Tech has a good chance of reaching the Sweet Sixteen. After that, anything can happen.
This is an exciting time to be a Texas Tech basketball fan. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Credit to ESPN and the BIG 12 for the clip.