Wednesday morning, it was announced that Texas Tech had agreed to play college basketball blue blood program Duke at Madison Square Garden this December. There had been rumors of Tech playing a big name opponent next season and seeing this type of match-up surely brought a smile to many Red Raiders.
At first glance, this game seems like a good non-conference match-up between two teams that went to the Elite 8 last season. Truly it’s nothing more than a way for two programs to bolster their non-conference strength of schedule and gauge where they stand at that point of the season. For Duke, that likely is what it is all about. For Duke, this game won’t be any bigger than their non-conference game against St. Johns or their season opener against Kentucky. Duke usually has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country year in and year out and is used to playing tough opponents.
For Tech, on the other hand, it’s not the same situation. Duke will likely be the toughest opponent Tech plays in non-conference and possibly the entire year. This past season, Tech’s toughest non-conference opponent was 20th ranked Northwestern who finished the season with a losing record. Nevada and Seton Hall were the only two non-conference teams that Tech played that made the NCAA tournament.
Not only is Duke a great opponent for Tech this year, but having the game in Madison Square Garden is big as well. Being able to play in the most famous basketball arena in the world is not only a privilege, but an honor. Last season, Tech made the trip to New York to play Seton Hall, and despite the loss, it seems as though that trip was beneficial to the players and the team.
Playing games in MSG yearly is incredible for the brand. Not only does it likely put the double T on national television, but it also makes it known to yankees up north who may only be familiar with those burnt orange people from Austin. It also seems as though Beard is trying to recruit top prospects nationally. After securing a commitment from four-star Khavon Moore from Georgia, Beard received a commitment from St. Johns transfer Tariq Owens who’s originally from Maryland. Beard has already dipped his toe in the New York market going after three-star big man Frankie Policelli from Long Island who’s still unsigned. More games at MSG will only bolster the chances of going after these types of players.
Recruiting for top talent doesn’t stop here! Texas Tech is heavily in the mix for 2018 6’8 SF Frankie Policelli (@frankpolicelli). He would be a MASSIVE addition to this recruiting class. #WreckEm pic.twitter.com/JDCQZIjB9O— ŦexasŦechHoopsFans (@TTUHoopsFans) February 27, 2018
Most importantly, this game shows where Texas Tech is as a program. Every game Duke schedules has a purpose, and Duke wouldn’t schedule this game unless they felt it was beneficial. Being able to play another team that went to the Elite 8 in Madison Square Garden makes the game beneficial for Duke. Not only that, it symbolizes that Texas Tech might be ready to hang with the likes of Duke when it comes to status. Tech has a massively long way to go to be in the same stratosphere as the Duke Blue Devils but being able to play this program and be on equal footing in a neutral site shows the Kirby Hocutt and Chris Beard has aspirations to take this program to new heights and to a place where playing the Dukes of the world is more common.