It’s time. The NCAA Tournament has begun and this team is ready to go. I’ve dusted off my basketball preview skills so let’s get rolling. The 3rd seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders have traveled to Tulsa to face the winner of the Horizon League Tournament, the 14th seeded Northern Kentucky Norse. Both of these teams have earned the right to be here, Texas Tech for the second season in a row, Northern Kentucky for the first time since 2017. There will be tons of talent on the floor Friday afternoon so let’s dive in.
The Norse won their conference tournament to be here, that includes a win over favorite and defending champion Wright State. This team has experience and tons of shooting. They are led by a senior who will probably go on to play basketball professionally somewhere and a couple of guys who will make sure this isn’t the last time this team reaches the NCAA Tournament.
No. 34 Drew McDonald: Senior - Forward - 6’8
19.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.9APG, 48% FG%, 80% FT%
McDonald is one of the best players in the Horizon League. He is their offense, all of it runs through him. He can post up, pop out and shoot, and many other things. The one play they run off of him more than any other is the pick and pop play.
If the Red Raiders are to contain this team, they will need to master how to defend that play. I’m honestly not too concerned about it as the Red Raiders have done a great job on screens this season and everyone can defend anyone on this Red Raiders’ defense. That’s a testament to Coach Mark Adams and Chris Beard for finding a style that works for this team and creating a culture around defense.
Looking at the film, McDonald is great at finding space for himself and that jumper of his. He moves swiftly and it shows why this team revolves around him. I honestly don’t know who will get the start on him but I do know that it will be a team effort keeping him from scoring the ball.
No. 15 Tyler Sharpe: Junior - Guard - 6’1
14.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 37% 3PT%, 77% FT%
Sharpe is the complement scorer to McDonald on this team. He is great at both spotting up and driving the lane on the offensive side of the ball. The Red Raiders will probably put Moretti on him as he matches up better with the smaller Sharpe.
Jalen Tate: Sophomore - Guard - 6’6
14 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 42% 3PT%
Tate runs the offense, leading the team in assists while also scoring a bunch of points for them. Their free flowing offense allows for a ton of assists and for a ton of guys to get to the hoop.
Those three lead the team on both ends of the floor, especially on offense. They run 7 or 8 deep in their rotation, with a couple of guys out there for defensive purposes. The Red Raiders will need to do a great job rotating and switching on screens. The help defense of the Red Raiders will be crucial in stopping this great offensive attack.
Offensively, the Red Raiders will need to hit open shots when they get them and attack the rim. The taller and more athletic lineup of the Red Raiders will need to keep out of foul trouble and be aggressive. I expect Matt Mooney and Davide Moretti to continue to show their three point prowess. Jarrett Culver should also have a good day against the Norse as they don’t really have anyone that can guard him one on one.
Davide Moretti, who had a career-high 19 points in the last Big 12 game, warming up. Consistency. pic.twitter.com/vK2kluIVa4— Carlos Silva Jr. (@cmsilvajr) January 9, 2019
The Red Raiders should win this one. But we also know it’s March Madness and the NCAA Tournament is always full of surprises. The Red Raiders will still have to play well to win of course but if there’s one thing I know, Coach Beard and his staff will have this group ready.
NKU Coach Brannen on Texas Tech & Jarret Culver:
Video: Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen talks about what he expects to see from Texas Tech and Jarrett Culver. pic.twitter.com/2YmQRWglzo— Brad Tollefson (@Brad_Tollefson) March 21, 2019
Texas Tech media: