Matchup: Texas Tech Red Raiders 17-5 (6-3) at West Virginia Mountaineers 13-8 (2-6)
Where to Watch: ESPN
Money line: Texas Tech -4.5 O/U 131.5
After one of the most emotional wins in program history, Texas Tech is onto the next game as they go into round two against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Both teams are on different trajectories as far as conference play and the overall outlook on the season is going, but the Big 12 is always tough so no opponent can be overlooked.
The Mountaineers are riding a six game losing streak heading into this one, including a four point heartbreaker to Baylor on Monday. The last time these teams met on January 22 it was the Taz Sherman show for the Mountaineers as he put up 21 points. He was really the only force on offense for them as Tech did a good job of not letting Sean McNeil get hot from deep. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 23 for the Red Raiders and really helped close this one out with his play down the stretch.
If Shannon isn’t available, the Red Raiders have had a few guys step up recently that can provide scoring at a high level for them. Kevin McCullar led the team with 19 points against Texas and has been the emotional leader all season. He is one of the best defenders in the nation and will likely have to show that again against the Mountaineers. Kevin Obanor found his stroke from behind the arc and hopefully that carries on into the later half of the season.
The key to beating this team this time around will be similar to what it was last time. Sherman is one of the better players in the league so stopping him is going to be a challenge, but as long as we don’t let anyone else get hot then we should be able to contain them on the defensive end. On offense we’re going to have to rely on guys like Adonis Arms and Bryson Williams to step up if Shannon isn’t able to go. Williams has been the most consistent offensive player for us this year so I’m hoping to see him get started early.
Getting closer to the end of the season, I’ll start highlighting how the conference picture is looking as each game approaches. Texas Tech is third in the conference just behind first place Kansas and second place Baylor. They’ve already split the season series with Kansas and still have a chance to sweep the season series with Baylor. A win and a Baylor loss will put us at number two in the conference, while a loss won’t move us down.
My prediction for this game is a 75-64 win. I think that we’ve moved past the Texas win and will keep adding wins that will help us at the end of the season. West Virginia ranks last in the conference but could easily find itself in the NCAA tournament, so we can’t take this team lightly as every game in the Big 12 is important.