It’s finally that time of year folks! Quite possibly the most exciting few weeks of the sports year begins this week with the start of the NCAA Tournament. With that, I wanted to look back on the incredible regular season for the Red Raiders, as well as take a look at their bracket and talk about their chances at making run for the Final Four this year.
I know I’m just a lowly blogger that doesn’t even get paid to write these, but there is nothing I could say or do that would make me look as dumb as the AP voters that picked Texas Tech to finish 7th (Yes, you heard me. SEVENTH!) in the Big12 preseason poll. Well fast forward a few months and here stands Texas Tech, Big12 Champions. Technically, Co-Champions, but Tech is ranked higher than Kansas State and consensually are considered the better team, so history will look back on the 2019 season and see Texas Tech as the Big12 Champions. If I’m being honest, they reached this goal pretty undramatically. Other than a short losing streak during the dog days of conference play, Chris Beard had his team ready to play in just about every game this year. Jarrett Culver stepped up in a major way all year. I always thought he could be a good player, but I can’t say that I saw a Big12 Player of the Year for him. But this coaching staff did a masterful job developing him and he was the easy choice. I could probably write a paragraph about each player on this team, all the way to Avery Benson, but I won’t do that. The contributions of the two grad-transfers, Mooney and Owens, were huge all year. Bench Shooting from Francis, Edwards, and Corprew was a fun development, especially late in the year. Norense Odiase played his role to a tee as well. His numbers are never going to catch your eye, but he has his finger prints all over that Big12 Trophy. And probably my favorite player on this team and by far the funnest player to watch in my opinion, Davade Morritti. This kid was the difference for Texas Tech this year. His and Mooney’s on ball defense is second to none, he’s an emotional leader on the court, and the kid basically never misses from 3…
The best thing about this regular season for Texas Tech though, had little to do with the players. What we learned was that no matter how many players need to be replaced, there is no reason not to trust that Chris Beard will have a team full of gutsy kids that will go out there and defend their butts off. His ability to get the most out of his players is invaluable. You won’t find a better coach in the country, and as long as he’s in Lubbock, you have a chance to win the Big12.
As much fun as it was to watch this team claim the Big12 crown and earn a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, we know that Coach Beard has bigger goals on his mind. This team wants to get to the Final Four and give themselves a chance to win the whole thing. Looking at their bracket, a Final Four trip is well within reach for this team. Headlined by #1 Seed Gonzaga, #2 Seed Michigan, and our own #3 Seed Texas Tech; the bracket lacks any real psychological threats. I think avoiding the blue-bloods like Duke, UNC, UK, and even Virginia is a break for this team. Now, one could argue that Gonzaga deserves to be mentioned with that group. But I would feel pretty confident about Tech’s chances going into an Elite 8 game against the ‘Zags. There are some other threats in the region, the aforementioned Michigan is a really talented, really well coached team. Not to mention they have experience making deep runs in the tourney. Florida State is no slouch at the #4 Seed, Nevada is a scary #7 Seed, and a possible 2nd round matchup with #6 Seed Buffalo will not be a cakewalk. If you’re looking for a sleeper team, Murrey State sits at #12 Seed. Not only is that a spot that sees a lot of Cinderella Stories, but they one have probably the most talented player in college basketball, Ja Morant. If not for a fella named Zion, Morant would likely be the number 1 pick in this years draft. So they’re dangerous.
I won’t reveal my bracket just yet, but right now I would pick either Texas Tech or Michigan to reach the Final Four out of this region. Either way, its been a phenomenal season. Here’s to another fun couple of weeks!