After taking care of business last weekend, the Red Raiders lost a heartbreaker Tuesday night in Fort Worth that could be the difference in whether or not they make the NCAA tournament. Now sitting at 4-7 in conference play, Texas Tech will need to finish on a hot streak to have a chance on Selection Sunday.
Strength of Schedule
The aspect of their resume most likely to hurt the Red Raiders earlier in the season may now be their best chance at stealing a tournament bid. Earlier this week, ESPN calculated that Tech has the fifth-toughest remaining schedule in the entire country. Though that is obviously daunting, it provides great opportunity. Going 3-2 over the next five games would likely vault the team right back into the tournament field.
Last weekend saw all three conference leaders fall at home, demonstrating the depth of the league. A microcosm of the Big 12’s strength is the fact that Iowa State beat Kansas in Lawrence and then lost in Austin just three days later. There have been no easy games and quite a few close ones over the last few weeks. In Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket prediction, all seven of the teams ahead of Tech are now in the field and off the bubble. The Red Raiders need to fight back into that group.
Peaks and Valleys
None of the seven Big 12 losses thus far will look bad by season’s end because the league is so good. The Auburn loss still hurts and the West Virginia win still looks good. The Red Raiders have two upcoming chances for massive wins that would definitely move the needle.
Usually, we look at other games around the conference or country that will affect Tech’s resume come March. While plenty of games still fit that description, the current situation makes them less important. Tech host two of the best teams in the nation over the next few days and they need all the help they can get. A win against either, by any margin, puts the Red Raiders back on track to fight for a tournament spot. Losing both could mean settling for the NIT. The ball is in their court and at this point in the season, all one can hope for is a chance.