NCAA Wednesday Night Basketball: Texas/Texas Tech Preview

by Big Al Staff

A college basketball doubleheader on ESPN2 concludes at 9 PM ET in a battle between two Big 12 teams nationally ranked in the top fifteen.

Texas Tech ranks 15th in the nation in the Associated Press poll after their 91-64 thrashing of Iowa State on the road as an 8.5-point favorite on Saturday. The victory raised the Red Raiders’ record to 10-3 on the season.

This group is likely Chris Beard’s most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Georgetown transfer Mac McClung has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 15.3 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 13.6 points-per-game.

Once again, Texas Tech is an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are fifth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. The Red Raiders are also fourth in the country by forcing turnovers in 26.7% of their opponent’s possessions. This team also thrives in getting second-chance shots. Texas Tech rebounds 35.1% of their missed shots, 23rd in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank seventh in free throw rate. The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 33.1% of their 3-pointers and 50.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 165th and 189th, respectively. Kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency at 37th.

Texas Tech’s three losses were to Houston, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. Their highest-profile win is against Oklahoma. Beard’s team could use another resume-building victory after compiling several wins against lesser competition.

Texas has several impressive victories against Indiana and North Carolina en route to winning the Maui Invitational while adding wins against Kansas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State. Their lone loss was at home to Villanova. They have since won six games to raise their record to 10-1 and earn a number four ranking by the AP. The Longhorns last played on Saturday when they upset the Mountaineers by a 72-70 score as a 1.5-point underdog.

Head coach Shaka Smart’s job was in jeopardy last season. The team hit a low point in an 81-52 loss at Iowa State. Yet Smart rallied his team to win five of their last six games to finish with a 19-12 record in a season interrupted to COVID. Texas was on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament. Smart's team has won 15 of their last 17 games since that drubbing to the Cyclones.

The Longhorns returned twelve players, including all five starters from last year. Smart added a likely one-and-done freshman in Greg Brown with his 12.0 points-per-game and 7.9 rebounds-per-game. Texas has five players scoring at least 9.0 points-per-game, led by Courtney Ramey with his 13.9 points-per-game average.

Texas ranks 12th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. On defense, the Longhorns are fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency fueled by their half-court defense as they hold their opponents to a 42.3% effective field goal percentage, ninth-best in the country.

BetAnySports lists Texas as a 2-point favorite with the total set at 131.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2021 Al McMordie's All Rights Reserved.