The Red Raiders gave the No. 5 ranked Baylor Bears everything they could handle Wednesday night in a 65-61 loss in Waco. Despite falling into a 15-4 hole early, Texas Tech battled back and had a chance to steal the game on their final possession. The loss dropped Tech to 14-6 (3-5) and has put their tournament future in jeopardy. On Thursday, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi kept the Red Raiders in his NCAA bracket as the second to last team in, despite them losing three of their last four. Here’s a closer look at their overall resume.Strength of Schedule
The Red Raiders are still trying to make up ground in this area but benefit from playing in arguably the country’s toughest conference. Losing to the first ranked team in RPI didn’t hurt them much and another round of conference play will help these rankings. Tech were 70th and 120th in ESPN’s RPI and SOS, respectively, at the time of this writing, and Kenpom.com has their schedule ranked 112th.
West Virginia throttling Baylor and then Kansas yet losing to Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas State is all the proof needed to show the strength and depth of the Big 12. The conference has consistently placed six or seven teams in most national bracket predictions, behind only the ACC and Big Ten who each have more schools than the Big 12. Going 9-9 and winning a couple road games in conference play should be enough to earn a bid.
Peaks and Valleys
The home win against the Mountaineers is still the strongest, while the loss to Oklahoma State is probably the worst now. They’re better than Auburn, but getting blown out at home this late in the season by a team that came to Lubbock 0-6 in conference play is unacceptable. Hopefully the committee realizes that the Cowboys are better than their record indicates. Stats also back this up, as Kenpom.com ranks their schedule the toughest in the nation thus far.
3 Big 12 Games That Matter
The Big 12/SEC Challenge is Saturday, but teams can’t afford to let up from the grind of conference play. The round of games next week has huge implications for the Big 12 standings.
West Virginia @ Iowa State
These teams should end up battling for third in the conference and are capable of beating anyone. Tech still get to play the Cyclones at home, which is much more winnable than going to Morgantown, so root for an Iowa State win here. The loser of this game could slide back into the pack, while the winner will have the chance to catch the loser of Baylor and Kansas.
Baylor @ Kansas
In one of the season’s premier matchups, the Bears head to Lawrence with first place (and perhaps much more) on the line. If Baylor want to unseat the champs, winning in Allen Fieldhouse is a major step in the right direction. The Red Raiders are a little over two weeks away from hosting both of these teams and would simply benefit from this one being close.
TCU @ Kansas State
TCU could be close to slipping down the standings and will need to finish strong to hang onto the tourney bid most experts believe they currently deserve. A Wildcat win could bump the Frogs down a bit, and the Red Raiders would benefit from jumping TCU in the bubble positioning.
Hosting LSU on Saturday should be a nice break from conference play and will hopefully allow the Red Raiders to return to their winning ways. A trip to Austin will conclude the first round of the Big 12 gauntlet and Tech need to pick up some steam down the stretch. That losing three of four didn’t complete wreck their tournament chances speaks volumes about what the committee thinks of them, but the Red Raiders can’t afford to slip much more.