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Texas Tech: Path to the Postseason 3.10

The NIT Awaits

The Texas Tech men’s basketball season has come to an end temporarily as they await their postseason fate. The last guaranteed game on the schedule resulted in a 61-52 loss to the Texas Longhorns Wednesday night in the first round of the Big 12 Championship. Though the NCAA Tournament dreams have ended, the team still has a chance to receive an invite to the NIT and postseason basketball for the second consecutive season.

The NIT field will be announced Sunday, March 12. Should Tech accept an invitation, it will likely receive a 5-seed or 6-seed and open the tournament on the road. The only way to play in Lubbock again would be advancing to face a team in their region with a lower seed. The Red Raiders are 2-11 in games played away from home this season.

The Red Raiders, once projected as an 8-seed in the Big Dance, finished 2-7 down the stretch after starting the season 16-7. A string of rough losses culminating in an 82-80 overtime loss to Iowa State appears to have taken the wind out of the team’s sails. The Red Raiders went 1-3 after that home loss, averaging 57.5 points over their last four games, nearly 16 points below their season average.

Despite finishing seventh in the Big 12 again like last season, the team’s 6-12 conference record, lack of road wins and weak nonconference schedule ultimately doomed their NCAA chances. The Red Raiders once again proved that the United Supermarkets Arena is a tough place for opposing teams to play, and fans should expect a more competitive nonconference slate next season.

The Big 12 appears to have five tournament spots locked down, as Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State have proven they deserve bids. The teams that finished directly above and below Tech in the conference, Kansas State and TCU, have improved their tournament chances through the first two rounds of the Big 12 Championship. The Horned Frogs knocked off the No.1 seed Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday and likely need to win the championship to advance, while Kansas State improved their bubble position by beating No. 9 ranked Baylor.

Though the season didn’t end like many fans hoped, the Red Raiders can play their way to five more games by advancing to the NIT championship. For a first-year coach bringing back the core of his team next season, every rep matters.