The Texas Tech Red Raiders left a bad impression before the NCAA Tournament. Losing to the last-place team in a conference — even a league as tough as the Big 12 — creates a lasting imprint.
When a highly-seeded team loses early in its conference tournament, everyone wants to know if the stumble means something for March. The problem with a single-elimination tournament is that a team can exhibit all the right signs and yet still run into a weird NCAA Tournament game which causes it to exit the Dance floor. A team can exhibit all the wrong signs and yet turn everything around.
In other words, there are teams such as 1994 North Carolina… and teams such as 2017 South Carolina.
Anything can — and does — happen.
Yet, if you study certain programs within historical contexts or particular situations, you might notice some patterns which give you a roadmap for the brackets on Selection Sunday.
The problem with Texas Tech when viewed through this lens: The Red Raiders have not been an annual guest of Bracketville. They have not made a regular home in America’s Favorite Bracketed Tournament. There is no clear-cut historical record which shows what “Texas Tech teams” do in the tourney.
We are left to do the only thing we can do: Evaluate this situation and its own details.
This is a young Texas Tech team. Little was expected from this group, picked seventh in the Big 12 in preseason polls. Any good team has to put forth a considerable effort to win, but some teams have an identity more centrally based on effort than anything else, and Texas Tech is one such team.
An effort-based team should welcome added rest before the NCAA Tournament. If Texas Tech had the ability to pursue a No. 1 seed, the early loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament would seem more costly. Under the circumstances, failing to get a 2 seed and settling for a 3 seed is not a huge price to pay in exchange for a few extra days off. Texas Tech won a street fight with Florida in the round of 32 last season. The Red Raiders, as a result of additional rest days this weekend, should be ready to win a similar donnybrook in the 2019 NCAA round of 32.
My view of Texas Tech: The patient is healthy entering the Big Dance.
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