We are finally, fingers crossed, about to tip-off the NCAA Tournament. The Big Dance is the most entertaining post season event in sports, it also might be the single most difficult to claim the throne through. Teams must be very good, very tough, playing their best basketball, and most importantly lucky. All of that is needed to navigate the grueling single elimination tournament to earn the national title.
For every program in the tournament expectations are going to be different. Some can consider making the Dance a job well done, whereas others might consider an Elite 8 run the measure of success. Texas Tech fans have their own varied expectations, which have absolutely been colored by Chris Beard’s unprecedented tournament runs over the last two iterations.
This team checks a lot of boxes for what it takes to make a run. On the flip side, they failed to capitalize in critical situations and could not put almost anyone away. I could point out how many bad breaks this team suffered, or that the Big 12 is so elite it was unrealistic to expect that games against the upper crust were going to be anything other than one possession games.
So, what are realistic expectations for Texas Tech fans?
Round of 64 expectation: Win convincingly
– Could the season be considered a success if this is the final game for Tech? Hell no, this would be severely disappointing and would ruin the momentum Beard has built up for this program.
Utah State does not really pose a serious threat despite what some believe. The reality of the situation is a dominant big is nothing without good guards around him and Utah State is very shorthanded in that department. Besides that, with some offense intended, it is not necessarily hard to dominate the Mountain West as an athletic tall guy. Against far lengthier guards with more athleticism and skill, and Santos-Silva banging around down low, there is no reason Tech cannot control this game start to finish.
Round of 32 expectation: Win in a battle
– Could the season be considered a success if this is the final game for Tech? No, but it at least would not be a bitter disappointment.
Tech’s hypothetical opponent here is Arkansas. Arkansas was playing extremely well to close the season, and is a high scoring team lead by Moses Moody. They are deep, and in my opinion, the best the SEC has to offer in the tournament. However, my opinion of the SEC is not exactly high. Arkansas is going to be able to score, but if Tech can do anything well in the tournament it is prepare for these matchups on a short turn around. With the low prep time, Tech’s defense is not fun to prepare for and the Red Raiders are going to pull away in a squeaker
Sweet Sixteen win probability: 50/50
– Could the season be considered a success if this is the final game for Tech? Yes, it would be disappointing but still a success.
I could do a similar exercise as above and assume Ohio State is our dancing partner in this round. However, the tournament is a place full of randomness and forecasting out this far when there is no chance any bracket predictions are still perfect feels silly. Suffice to say, any team by this round is battle tested and a worthy adversary. For a Texas Tech team struggling with consistency, stringing together three straight wins at this level is a tall order. What can be said is that reaching this round for three straight years is an accomplishment worth bragging about.
If Tech can reach this round, the entire year should be measured as a success. Yes, Chris Beard has higher goals but this tournament is designed to ruin the best made plans. Tech is good enough to get to the assumed matchup with Baylor, but it could also be downed by a worthy foe here. If that were to happen, no heads should be down.