Even though Texas Tech dropped consecutive games to No. 14 West Virginia, No. 23 Kansas and Oklahoma State, it was difficult to feel cynical about the Red Raiders’ postseason outlook.
Under previous regimes, a string of losses leading up to March would be cause for unabated concern. But during the Chris Beard era, we view these disappointing stretches in a completely different light. We don’t see an ominous foreshadowing of things to come. We see the former national coach of the year simply working out some kinks.
And there’s just reasoning behind that blind optimism. Beard has led Tech to unprecedented heights, further than any of his predecessors. So even though this particular roster doesn’t seem adequately equipped to make it past the first or second round of the NCAA tournament or even capable of shooting its way back from a minimal deficit, we know Beard is going to maximize every player’s potential. That’s why we overlook three consecutive losses.
After completing a series sweep over the Texas Longhorns, the Red Raiders are in unique position to head into the postseason with bundles of momentum. In theory, Tech’s next two opponents (TCU and Iowa State) should be easy dubs—I say that knowing the Big 12 is unequivocally the best conference in the country (seriously, the Big 10 is way overhyped)—and the season concludes with a trip to Waco to play a Baylor team that finally showed some vulnerability against Kansas.
It’s completely in the realm of possibility to win all three games remaining on the regular season schedule. Tech would finish with a 10-7 record in conference play, likely securing a No. 6 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Imagine the Red Raiders entering the tournament with four consecutive wins, including victories over Texas and Baylor. Even if Tech doesn’t win the conference tournament, we can at least expect two or three more wins before Selection Sunday.
The bracketology nerds project Texas Tech to be a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament as it stands. But if Tech runs the table to close out the regular season and adds a couple of more wins in the conference tournament, there’s no reason the Red Raiders can’t head to Indianapolis as a No. 4 seed.
But the seeding is largely irrelevant. The moral here is about Tech’s level of play entering the most crucial point in the season. If the Red Raiders are peaking right now, it doesn’t matter if they’re a No. 6 seed, a No. 4 seed or a No. 16 seed—they’ll be a threat against every team they face.