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Four way-too-early predictions for the 2018–2019 basketball season

Zhaire Smith is one and done and the Red Raiders return to the sweet sixteen

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Villanova vs Texas Tech Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Zhaire Smith will not return.

This isn’t really a “way too early” prediction. Zhaire Smith has been appearing on mock drafts as early as February and recently appears as high as 11th overall. As much as I would like to say he needs to spend another year or so developing his skills, opportunities like this are not guaranteed in the future and Beard will advise Smith to do what is best for him.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Villanova vs Texas Tech Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Raiders will finish third in the Big 12

Texas Tech will be back in Big 12 title contention next season, however with such a young team, it will be difficult to overtake Kansas. This will be a down year for much of the Big 12 as West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas will lose key players. Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma State should be improved and I expect Kansas, Texas Tech and Iowa State to make up the top three.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Texas Tech v West Virginia Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Culver will fill the void left by Evans

Keenan Evans will go down as one of the best players to don the scarlet and black. His competitive edge and phenomenal ability to come through in the clutch made up for any physical shortcomings he may have had. While there’s no way to completely replace him, I expect Culver to have a breakout season next year and become a true leader for what will be a very young team.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas Christian Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech will return to the Sweet 16

The Red Raiders will return to the postseason. After finishing a second consecutive 20 win season, Tech will make the tournament as a four seed and, after a tough second round, will return to the Sweet Sixteen.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Villanova vs Texas Tech Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

With Chris Beard at the helm, there is no doubt the Red Raiders will become a significant power in the Big 12. The future is bright indeed.