Texas Tech once again defended their home court Wednesday night with a 75-69 win over TCU. The victory pushed the team to 14-4 overall and evened their conference record up at 3-3. After one third of conference play, there is little separation in the middle of the Big 12 standings. All four teams currently tied at 3-3 were included in the latest NCAA tournament bracket prediction by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Here’s a closer look at how Tech’s resume is shaping up with only 13 games remaining.
Strength of Schedule
Tech checked in at 47th in ESPN’s latest RPI rankings and should continue to climb as they navigate the Big 12 schedule. Emerging from conference play at or above .500 will likely be enough to make the NCAA tournament, but the terrible nonconference schedule will hurt should the Red Raiders finish 8-10 or worse in the league.
West Virginia’s home loss to Oklahoma will hurt their national perception and the Mountaineers will likely dip out of the top 10 in the next AP Poll. TCU, Iowa State and Kansas State each received votes in the last poll, and a Red Raider win Saturday against Oklahoma State should push Tech into that group. Head to head, the top seven in this league would match up well against the top seven in any conference.
Peaks and Valleys
The recent Mountaineer home loss makes Tech’s win over them seem less impressive, but Oklahoma are good enough to justify that result over the long haul. Auburn are a middle of the road SEC team at best, so that loss is still the biggest blemish on the resume.
3 Big 12 Games That Matter
Iowa State @ Oklahoma
The Sooners can push their way back into the conference picture with a third straight win Saturday in Norman. Standing in their way is a Cyclone team trying to keep pace with the top third of the league. A Sooner win could make fourth in the conference more attainable for Tech but further jumble the middle of the league. Since the loss to Iowa State was more or less expected, root for a Sooner win here that could help justify Tech’s loss to them.
West Virginia @ Kansas State
A Mountaineer loss here would likely cause a huge fall in the AP rankings, while a road win would help stop the bleeding from their home loss to Oklahoma. Since Tech and Kansas State are likely to be “bubble teams,” head to head comparisons are important. Tech won their home game against WVU, so we should hope the Wildcats can not do the same. West Virginia were highly ranked when they lost in Lubbock, so the Red Raiders benefit from them still being highly ranked when the season ends. A win here helps that cause.
Kansas @ West Virginia
This is perhaps the marquee game on the entire Big 12 schedule and will be the best chance for someone to defeat the Jayhawks. Tech will get their shot at the champs next month, but for now can benefit from a West Virginia win that would greatly enhance their resume. The conference as a whole suffers if it appears that Kansas will walk away with another title, so root for the Press Virginia upset here.
As things stand, Texas Tech has the inside track to an NCAA tournament bid. Most experts expect the Big 12 to place at least six teams in the tournament field. If the Red Raiders, who are undefeated at home thus far, can go 4-2 in their remaining conference home games, they’ll be well on their way to a second consecutive appearance in The Big Dance.