The 2017 iteration of the NCAA Tournament bracket was completed on Monday night, which means it’s time to start thinking about what the 2018 version will look like.
The Red Raiders’ surprise appearance in the 2016 tournament left many fans expecting a similar outcome in Chris Beard’s first year in charge. Now, with a core of talented and experienced seniors, the 2017-2018 season will, by many people, be judged by whether or not Texas Tech is invited to the Big Dance.
Plenty will change over the next seven months leading up to the season, both in Lubbock and around the country, and most of it is out of the Red Raiders’ control. However, it’s important to understand and account for the changes that most directly affect Texas Tech basketball so fans can have informed expectations when the season tips off.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his first look at the 2018 tournament field, which includes Texas Tech as an 11-seed. This bracket is essentially a glorified, way-too-early preseason poll that will definitely change as recruiting, transfers and coaching moves unfold.
Still, expect this prediction to be common among college hoops die-hards because the Red Raiders will once again be one of the most experienced teams in arguably the nation’s toughest conference. The other Big 12 teams included, with seed number in parentheses, were: Kansas (1), West Virginia (2), Baylor (6), TCU (8), Oklahoma (9), and Iowa State (10). Oklahoma State and Texas were also mentioned as two of the first eight teams out, meaning that only Kansas State was left off of Lunardi’s initial bracket and bubble watch.
The 11-seed for Texas Tech means that Lunardi has them somewhere around the 41st-44th best team in the country right now, which is in line with the team’s final Kenpom.com ranking of 41st this season.
Again, this bracket prediction must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Five of the nation’s top unsigned recruits have interest in one or more Big 12 schools and several of the league’s top players still have NBA draft decisions to make. But the fact that Tech debuted where it did means it will have the nation’s attention going forward.