The Texas Tech Red Raiders (30-6) earned their first ever Final Four appearance by running through the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders won a share of the Big 12 regular season title. However, a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers kept the Red Raiders from a possible 2-seed. The loss also ended a nine-game winning streak. Instead, the Red Raiders have won 14 of their last 15 games heading into the Final Four.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (30-6) West Region Champs
Head Coach: Chris Beard (75-30) Three Seasons
West Region: No. 3 seed
Big 12 Regular Season Champs
NCAA Tournament Wins: 4
1st round: 72-57 vs. No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky Norse
2nd round: 78-58 vs. No. 6 seed Buffalo Bulls
Sweet 16: 63-44 vs. No. 2 seed Michigan Wolverines
Elite 8: 75-69 vs. No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs
Final Fours: 1
National Semifinal opponent: Michigan State Spartans
So far, the Red Raiders have proven to have the best defense in the NCAA Tournament. They have held opponents to 59 points per game during the season. They are stifling opponents to 57 points per game in four NCAA Tournament games. Keep in mind, the Gonzaga Bulldogs averaged 87.6 points per game, while the Buffalo Bulls averaged 84.4 points per game. Both teams finished in the Top 10 of college basketball scoring offense. The Red Raiders also played a top 50 scoring offense in the Northern Kentucky Norse. They averaged 78.5 points per game. Michigan was the worst rated offense at 70 points per game. In other words, the Red Raiders have been a dominant defensive unit.
Opponents are shooting 37.4 percent against the Red Raiders in the NCAA Tournament. They are only connecting on 23.4 percent of their 3-point shots during March Madness. The Bulls were the only team to shoot better than 30 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Wolverines made 1 of 19 3-pointers during their Sweet 16 loss to the Red Raiders. They are great at making opponents uncomfortable on the offensive end.
Furthermore, the Red Raiders have limited the costly turnovers during their run to the Final Four. They are averaging 10.8 turnovers in the last four games. Keep in mind, the Red Raiders average 14.3 turnovers in six losses this season. As long as they find quality shots, the defense has a chance to get back in position. So far, that’s been a terrifying situation for all of the opponents. Tariq Owens leads the Red Raiders with 2.4 blocks per game. He had three blocks in the win over Gonzaga.
The Red Raiders are scoring 72 points per game during the NCAA Tournament. Their scoring differential is at 15 points per contest in March Madness. They have three players that score in double figures. Matt Mooney scored 17 points in the Elite 8 win. Davide Moretti chipped in with 12 points, while Owens scored 9 points. Kyler Edwards came off the bench to score eight points.
Player To Watch: Jarrett Culver: The sophomore wing player just earned a spot on the second team All-America squad. Culver leads the Red Raiders with 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Culver also averages 1.5 steals per game. He is able to control the game from multiple places on the floor. Yet, we already showed Culver has plenty of help. However, he did lead the Red Raiders with 19 points on 5 of 19 shooting in the Elite 8.
Overall, the Red Raiders have made the NCAA Tournament 17 times. They’ve never been higher than a three seed. However, they’ve earned the No. 3 seed three different times, including last season.