We’re exactly one month away from Selection Sunday and there’s still plenty of scenarios that could play out for Texas Tech. As of today they’re third in the conference with an 8-4 conference record and a 19-6 record overall. They’re one of the highest rated defensive teams in all of college basketball because everyone has bought in to the scheme and plays their role the right way. Continuing to dominate on the defensive end will be key for the Red Raiders if they want to make a deep run in the tournament.
On the offensive end the Red Raiders have been able to put up points at times, but they just need to get more consistent shooting the ball. When Terrence Shannon Jr. takes over and allows other guys to get better looks then this team is nearly unbeatable, but with Shannon being in and out of the lineup throughout the season it’s been harder to see that on a consistent basis. Kevin Obanor also needs to find his shot before heading into March as he will be relied on heavily to hit shots down the stretch.
Currently looking through many bracket projections, Tech has landed anywhere between a low third-seed to a high five-seed. A week ago they were a third seed on everyone’s bracket but the Oklahoma loss dropped them. With six games left on the schedule before the conference tournament, here are a few scenarios and how likely they are to happen.
1 Seed- Unlikely but Possible
In order for this to happen, Tech would need to win out the rest of the year and win the conference tournament. They would also need Kansas to lose either two or three more games so they could either finish tied for the conference title or win it outright. The Jayhawks travel to West Virginia, Baylor and TCU and they also host Texas who just recently beat them. So while it’s highly unlikely they lose three games, it’s possible.
Texas Tech hosts Baylor on Wednesday then heads to Texas on Saturday for their last two real tests of the season as the last four games should see the Red Raiders favored heavily in each. If Tech can finish strong and win the Big 12 tournament, they will likely be ranked in the top five and be in the running for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
2 Seed- Likely but Difficult
This scenario would probably need one of two things to happen. Either Tech wins out and makes it to the conference championship game or Tech drops another game or two during the regular season but wins the conference championship. Both would take Tech out of the running for a one seed but could see Tech get a chance at a 2 seed if things shake out the right way.
As much as I would love to say that Tech is easily going to sweep this last stretch of the regular season and win the Big 12 tourney, these next two games are tough conference games that could go either way. Also factoring in how much of a gauntlet the Big 12 has been this year shows that the conference tournament isn’t going to be easy no matter what matchup anyone gets on a neutral court.
3 Seed- Most likely
This is where I see Tech likely ending up at when the brackets are released. I think that we will finish with at least five wins to end the regular season and we’ll be in the conference championship game against the Jayhawks. This scenario likely ends up with us as a three seed heading into the tournament.
Depending on the severity of Kevin McCullar’s injury we would be better off just resting him and getting some other guys playing time as he heals. I would much rather take a few blows and let him get healthy as opposed to playing him before he’s ready and risking him getting even more injured.
4 Seed- Likely but avoidable
If we end up getting a 4 seed then it isn’t the end of the world, but that scenario is likely the result of losing multiple games to finish out the regular season and not making it to the conference championship. This is probably going to be the case if McCullar isn’t able to come back for a few weeks, but if we get him back healthy then that’s the only thing that matters.
5 Seed or lower- Unlikely
This scenario would be the result of losing three or more of the remaining games in the regular season and a first or second round exit in the conference tournament. I think even if that were to happen our resume is too good to put us anywhere lower than a 6 seed, but that would make even an Elite Eight appearance a tough task. Obviously the higher seed that we have then the more favorable the matchup is for us, but this is March and anything can happen.
Putting all of my bias aside I see this team winning five out of the last six and winning the Big 12 tournament against the Kansas Jayhawks. We took care of them on our home court and they needed double overtime at their place to take us out, and I feel like when we play at our best we’re right up there with the best in the country. We will likely end up with a three seed and be set to make another run at the championship.
McCullar and his injury status will be key heading forward. Hopefully it’s something that keeps him out a short time so that he can get back into the lineup and help us win some games before the tournament. If not then guys like Adonis Arms and Mylik Wilson will need to step up in his place and continue to play great defense while helping out on the offensive end more to makeup for McCullar’s production.
The last key for us is going to be Shannon taking over and being the guy that we can count on down the stretch to make a key basket for us. Obanor also needs to find his rhythm, but Shannon will be the offensive piece that we need in order to make a deep run.