At the begin of this yr’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the prognosticators at statistical evaluation website online FiveThirtyEight gave Texas Tech a 14 percent hazard of creating it to the Final Four. Instead of assisting the wide variety 3 seed within the West portion of the bracket, the percentages were stacked in choose of the pinnacle-ranked Gonzaga or perhaps the two-seed Michigan. But because the event has opened up, Tech constantly defied the chances. Buoyed by using a stifling defense, the Red Raiders have now not most effective made it to their first Final Four in college history but ended a statewide drought that’s prolonged for the reason that 2003 Longhorns were given knocked out inside the penultimate round.
If you haven’t been following Texas Tech basketball carefully, it’s k—one of the purest joys of March Madness is picking a crew to assist as the sector winnows, and it’s extra enjoyable while the bandwagon you’re becoming a member of belongs to an underdog. While some may select Auburn, a 5-seed on the alternative aspect of the bracket, the truth which you’re now not analyzing Alabama Monthly proper now suggests that you’d opt to root for the boys from Lubbock. Besides, Auburn’s football success makes it hard to ever view them as a real underdog. If your loyalties were divided coming into the trendy round—say among Tech and Houston, who was regrettably removed over the weekend—then you definitely possibly eager to arise to speed. Here are the bullet points you need to faux your way via any Red Raiders watch events you’ll be invited to—towards Michigan State on Saturday night and perhaps past.
Why They’re So Good: Defense, defense, defense. The Red Raiders held Michigan to a miserable forty-four points within the Sweet Sixteen round, a definitely stifling wide variety for software as esteemed as the Wolverines to position up. In the weekend’s matchup over Gonzaga, the top seed fared higher, putting up sixty-nine points, a nicer—however still inadequate—showing. That was the primary time within the complete event that a crew broke 60 points towards the Red Raiders, but Gonzaga’s offensive performance has been unrivaled this season, making Tech’s displaying nonetheless extremely extraordinary.
What Makes Them Fun to Watch: Throughout the event, Texas Tech has been one of the maximum fun teams to watch, one of the sense-top underdogs to emerge in this yr’s guys’ tournament (the alternative, Auburn, faces a tougher contest against the powerhouse that is Virginia). Tech has been triumphing games no longer just via playing nicely, but also by making their combatants look sloppy, which is its personal sort of reward. The crew iced the game in opposition to Gonzaga via drawing an implausible technical foul in the final seconds; in Michigan’s first fifteen possessions against the crew, the Red Raiders held them to just six factors, and accumulated a whopping six turnovers (they finished the sport with fourteen). Michigan State boasts a dominant offense, but one prone to mistakes (they became the ball over 22 times within the 2nd round), which Texas Tech will be seeking to exploit.
Who to Cheer For: The crew’s first-rate participant, Jarrett Culver, is tough to incorporate for an entire game, and even a smart first-half of recreation plan regularly leads to a 2d-half breakout from the taking pictures protect. You can drop a line like that if you’re pretending which you’ve observed the group all season, but the most likable issue about Culver isn’t just his on-courtroom performance. A Lubbock local, Culver changed into born and raised inside the town where he’s played two seasons of university ball. (He’s expected to go into the draft after the match, wherein he’ll likely become the first pinnacle-five pick out of Texas Tech in view that Tony Battie in 1997.) There are lots of folks that decry the one-and-executed tradition of guys’ college basketball, wherein gamers are rented by excessive-profile programs for a single season earlier than entering the NBA, to comply with league regulations. If you’re one of them, Culver is a nice antidote, a homeland player who become largely unheralded as a recruit, and whose emergence inside the handiest city he’s called home makes him an easy player to rally behind.
The Takeaway: If your bracket busted, jumping on the Texas Tech bandwagon is simple this yr. It’s a robust narrative: a crew of underdogs from a nation that’s struggled to be applicable inside the men’s match over the last a long time, led by a fatherland hero who’s emerged from obscurity to grow to be a sought-after NBA prospect. We’ll find out on Saturday night of the Red Raiders can increase the magic for any other recreation—or two—but both manner, it’s amusing to root for them.