The Red Raiders wrapped up a 16-3 regular season home record Wednesday night with a 67-57 win over the Texas Longhorns. The five seniors were recognized and all started their last scheduled home game, but solid play in the regular season finale and Big 12 Tournament could earn the team the chance for additional games in the United Supermarkets Arena.
Several current bracket predictions have Texas Tech ranked as a likely 3-seed in the NIT. In this 32-team tournament broken into four regions, higher seeded teams host games up until the semifinal in Madison Square Garden. Should the Red Raiders beat Kansas State on Saturday, they would finish sixth in the Big 12 and likely earn a 3-seed or higher in the NIT. What they do in Kansas City next week can only improve their likelihood of playing more games in Lubbock. Should they reach the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament, they would make a strong case for being a 2-seed in the NIT.
This would be a huge boost to their chances of advancing, as they would both face a lesser opponent in the first round of the NIT and guarantee a second round home game with a first round win. Competition in the NIT will be tougher than the Red Raiders’ nonconference schedule but easier than the Big 12 schedule. But regardless of competition level, Tech is ultimately 16-3 at home this season and 2-9 elsewhere. Additional home games in the NIT increase the likelihood that Tech advances, while additional road games give the junior core more reps in hostile arenas which can be built upon for next season. Either way, there’s plenty to gain from postseason play.
Lastly, for the “there’s still a chance” crowd, Tech would make the NCAA Tournament with a Big 12 Tournament championship. The easiest road to this involves beating Kansas State and securing a 6-seed. This would likely result in a matchup with Baylor, a team Tech has actually outscored by two points in head to head action this season. A win there would likely lead to Iowa State or West Virginia, who have combined to play four overtime periods against the Red Raiders in four total meetings. Advancing to the finals would likely mean a matchup with No. 1 Kansas. However unlikely this may seem, they don’t call this March Madness for nothing.