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Animosity is in the air as Chris Beard makes his long awaited return to Lubbock

Chris Beard makes his return to Texas Tech as the Red Raiders host the Longhorns in what should be the most exciting game in the history of the United Supermarkets Arena

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Texas Tech at Arkansas IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup: Texas Longhorns 16-5 (5-3) at Texas Tech Red Raiders 16-5 (5-3)

Where to Watch: ESPN2 (HOW)

Money line: Texas Tech -4 O/U 123.5

Here it is folks, the day that we’ve had circled on the calendar since April 1st. Chris Beard makes his long awaited return to the 806, but this time as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. As much as I would love to spend this time bashing Beard for the way he left Tech, I think my buddies on the Hub City Homers podcast did a really good job of that so be sure to give that a listen before the game!

As much as we would love to think that we’re just going to kick the crap out of Texas, that’ll be easier said than done. The Longhorns have a very talented starting five and will not be easy to put away.

This team is lead by two transfers in Timmy Allen (Utah) and Marcus Carr (Minnesota). Both guys are capable scorers who are also inefficient from behind the arc, which is a theme for this Longhorns squad. Andrew Jones, who beat cancer and is one of the best stories in college basketball no matter who you root for, is averaging just above 10 points a game and attacks the rim with aggression if you don’t keep him in front of you.

Tre Mitchell, Christian Bishop and Dylan Disu share time as the big man in their lineup but none of them are bigger than 6’10”. Texas usually doesn’t try to use their size as an advantage so I expect the Red Raiders to dominate on the glass. The only guy that is dangerous from behind the arc is Brock Cunningham when he happens to find minutes.

The key to this game for the Red Raiders will be to keep them from getting offensive rebounds and attacking them in the paint. The Longhorns can make you pay if you allow them to keep getting opportunities on the offensive end with Allen and Carr. Kevin Obanor, Bryson Williams and Marcus Santos-Silva will be key guys in the paint with their size and ability to score in a variety of ways.

One of the other keys that is currently up in the air is the availability of TJ Shannon. He’s going to be a game-time decision but you would think that he’d like to be available at the very least to be able to play against Beard. If he can’t go then it’ll be another opportunity for Adonis Arms Jr. to show out and step up for this team like he has this season.

My prediction for the final score will be 67-62 Red Raiders. This will be a close one till the end but defense and free throws will be key and the good guys will be able to get this one done and win a big one for this program. I think it’ll be emotional to start but once things settle down the guys will lock in and play the way we know they can.