It made perfect sense that Brandone Francis reaffirmed an underdog’s mentality for the Texas Tech Red Raiders heading into Monday night’s national championship game against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Francis is part of a team whose supporting cast has been outstanding throughout the 2019 NCAA Tournament. That supporting cast has played brilliant defense and provided timely offense. It carried Texas Tech star Jarrett Culver — arguably the one NBA lottery pick at the Final Four in Minneapolis — through a sluggish offensive game on Saturday in the national semifinals against Michigan State.
Texas Tech’s supporting cast — not a bunch of headliners, not a bunch of one-and-dones, not a group of players which occupied the spotlight over the past five months, playing in Lubbock, Texas — has lived in the shadows and not received a long, sudsy bath of praise from a national hype machine. Of course Francis — a role player who scored nine huge points and played superb defense to propel Texas Tech past Michigan State — would sound the underdog trumpet in a media session on Sunday in Minnesota.
“We just want to continue to be the underdog,” Francis said.
Even if Texas Tech isn’t playing like an underdog — it handled Michigan State more easily than Virginia dealt with Auburn — and even if the Red Raiders have not needed Virginia’s good fortune at this tournament, why would anyone in the Texas Tech inner sanctum suddenly shift to a favored team’s mentality?
Being overlooked, being quiet, being able to let each 40-minute game do the talking — all these things have helped Texas Tech achieve the greatest season in program history and move within one win of claiming a first national title.
A role player, Francis, would naturally be the one to reinforce the attitude which has served the Red Raiders so well in this tournament. Texas Tech has every reason to carry that attitude into — and through — Monday night. No one should be surprised if Francis and his teammates pass this last test and bring a national championship to Lubbock.
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