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Taking on West Virginia, round three

The Red Raiders start off the Big 12 Tournament against the Mountaineers

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the regular-season Big 12 championship hangover has passed, Coach Beard is entering what he has prepared for all season long: tournament season. As they say, “this is March.”

After a historic weekend, Texas Tech comes into the Big 12 Conference Championship with the regular-season title and a number of awards. This is their twenty-third appearance in the conference tournament, and their intro into this year’s is as the second seed facing off tonight against the tenth seed West Virginia. During the regular season, the Red Raiders swept the Mountaineers with a 62-59 win in Morgantown and then an 81-50 win in Lubbock. Even though Tech is on a nine-game winning streak, West Virginia isn’t as easy a mark as the regular-season. Their game against Oklahoma last night showcased their ability to out-rebound and score when it mattered. More fortuitous for the Mountaineers than a sense of momentum and taste of victory is the possibility of their preseason All-Big 12 shot blocker’s return:

Konate is a premier shot blocker and all around athlete for the Mountaineers. His absence across the regular-season conference play has been noticeable, and his return would without-a-doubt add a level of energy to the West Virginia team. Right now Kenpom has Huggins’ team ranked 106th overall with an AdjO at 98th and an AdjD at 134th. For contrast, Texas Tech is ranked at 8th overall with an AdjO at 33rd and an AdjD at 1st. Konate, if he plays, would easily put West Virginia’s defense sub 100 - maybe even sub 75.

Texas Tech is 2-0 at the Sprint Center this season after winning the Hall of Fame Classic against USC and then Nebraska. Even though some WVU fans argue that their team is in no way the same team that Tech played in Lubbock - I think we all realize that Tech isn’t either. Coach Beard has prepared his team for back-to-back games and resilient efficiency in this tournament season. A Tech team that is locked in is a tough team to beat. I like Konate if he comes back... but not that much. Give me Texas Tech 72 - West Virginia 64

Texas Tech vs West Virginia by the numbers:


Coach Beard on the Big 12 Tournament: