Texas Tech is a top-15 team in the country, but finished in the bottom half of its conference. There’s no disputing the Big 12 is unequivocally the top basketball league in the country, and the Red Raiders weathered a gauntlet of a schedule to the best of their ability. Highlights of the season include a road win against Texas on a buzzer-beater from Mac McClung, a series sweep of the top-10 Oklahoma Sooners, and a good showing in the Big 12-SEC challenge with a 76-71 win over LSU. Tech doesn’t have a single bad loss on its record, but its lack of game-breaking shot-makers can lead to trouble when it finds itself trailing in games. Chris Beard has evolved into one the game’s top coaches and his defense is as stingy as ever. If the Red Raiders can clamp down defensively early in games and find a rhythm offensively, they can make another deep run in the tournament.
He’s a future first-round draft pick and when he’s healthy, it’s easy to see why. Long, athletic and capable of making plays on either end of the floor, Shannon is the catalyst for this Red Raider team. He takes pressure off of Mac McClung from being the only source of offense, and his ability to crash the boards and defend make him indispensable to Chris Beard. He’s been battling ankle problems all season, but if he’s at 100 percent, Tech can make a run at an Elite Eight or even Final Four. If he’s not, then it could mean an early departure for a Red Raider team with high hopes.
Tech’s defense and Mac McClung’s proclivity to perform in the biggest moments could lead to a deep run for the Red Raiders. There are few teams as battle-tested as Chris Beard’s group, and when they inevitably face adversity in this tournament, it’ll be familiar territory. Tech’s Big 3 of McClung, Shannon Jr. and Marcus Santos-Silva can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the country in terms of pure grit, hustle and clutch playmaking on both ends of the floor.
If Tech falls behind a team by double digits, it’ll be difficult to shoot its way back into the game. In a field loaded with shotmakers and 3-point specialists, Tech will not be able to take a single play off - every possession, every basket will have significant ramifications. To win the tournament, Tech will need to win a bunch of games 60-56, and that’s just not a likely scenario when you look at some of the other offenses out there.