This deep run in the NCAA Tournament that the Red Raiders have been on has been nothing short of incredible. Head coach Chris Beard has put his stellar coaching abilities on display and everyone on the roster has been contributing in one way or another. But now comes down to the Final Four; a place that no other Texas Tech basketball team has made it to, and it’s going to take quite an effort to compete against a veteran Michigan State Spartans team. However, if Texas Tech’s big men can continue to dominate down low, we should be in control of the game’s pace. Here are a few reasons why Tech’s front court is essential to getting the W.
Michigan St. has the height
When it comes down to it, the Spartans have the overall height advantage in this match up. With arguably their two best players standing over 6’5, it will be important to have Texas Tech put big bodies down low on the block. Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman stands at 6’8 while his counterpart, Kenny Goins, stands at 6’7, making these two a problem to guard in the paint.
They showed just how effortless it is to score down low when they faced Duke and defeated the Blue Devils, 68-67. Not to mention how well they played against NCAA phenom Zion Williamson. When you can body a player like Zion and force him to turn over the ball, you know you are a threat in the tournament. That’s exactly what these two Spartans showed in the Elite Eight round and i guarantee they wont let up against the Red Raiders.
Rebounding can change the tempo
We all know the statement above is true. We’ve seen it with this Texas Tech squad and how well the team can grab the boards. However, Michigan State is no scrub in that department either.
Just with Tillman and Goins alone, the two have averaged 17.8 rebounds in 31 minutes in NCAA games. Again, that’s just two players out of the many assets that embody the Spartan roster. For the Red Raiders, they have to put a body on these two and make sure Michigan State can’t get a second chance opportunity off an offensive rebound.
The same goes for Texas Tech, which is already known as an above average rebounding team. Getting the ball off the board is an essential piece to pushing the tempo, getting back on offense and grabbing those fastbreak points off a layup from Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti or Matt Mooney.
Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase
The two names stated above are big time players for Texas Tech and have been during this NCAA Tournament run. Senior forwards Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase are the key components in the Red Raider front court.
Big time dunks? Expect that to be thrown down by one of the two. Big time offensive rebounds? Again, look at Owens and Odiase to grab those down low. These two Red Raiders have made big time plays all season, but especially during March Madness. Both Owens and Odiase can give you strong performances on offense and defense, which make them even bigger assets in Saturday’s game. We need these two to produce down low against the Spartans big men in order to get the win.
We know these two can get the job done. I mean, we all saw that huge block by Owens with 55 seconds left against Gonzaga to pretty much ensure Texas Tech would get the win, and the it did.
Every aspect of this team and the way they play is essential to ensuring a Red Raider victory on Saturday. If the front court can fire on all cylinders, it will be hard to imagine Texas Tech not coming out on top and advancing to the National Championship.