Texas Tech Must Be Road Warriors To Win Big 12 Title

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 17: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders (center) talks with his team during the game with the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center on January 17, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 17: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders (center) talks with his team during the game with the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center on January 17, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech basketball team heads back out on the road today to take on Kansas State.  If the Red Raiders have designs on winning the Big 12 title, they must pull out some tough road wins down the stretch.

With just seven Big 12 games remaining in the regular season, a golden opportunity sits before the Texas Tech basketball team.  On the strength of an 8-3 start to Big 12 play, built largely on a 6-0 home record, the Red Raiders are tied with Kansas atop the league standings and have the inside track to be the team that ends the Jayhawks’ 14-year run of Big 12 basketball titles.

But if the February 24th matchup with KU in Lubbock is going to be a pseudo Big 12 regular season title game, the Red Raiders must do something that they have not done under Chris Beard.  They must string together some Big 12 road wins.  In Beard’s two seasons with Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are yet to win back-to-back conference road games.

That task begins tonight against a tough Kansas State team that has lost only four home games this season.  What’s more, three of those losses have come to Kansas, West Virginia and an Arizona State team that was ranked in the top 5 nationally earlier this season.  The Wildcats have not lost a Big 12 game to any school other than the top three in the league standings (Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia) and they will see tonight’s game as an opportunity to put a high-profile win on their NCAA Tournament resumé.

Still, if Texas Tech truly is a top-10 team and Big 12 title contender, this is the type of game is must win.  Championships are won on the road and never has that been more true than in the Big 12 of 2018.

With such parity and competition in the Big 12, which could to land up to 80% of its teams in the NCAA tournament and could realistically see all 10 members play in the postseason, the team that figures out how to win on the road will hoist the trophy.

But the road is a daunting task in this conference.  Only one team, TCU has a losing home record in conference play and no team in the league has lost more than four home games.

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The Red Raiders have not won consecutive road games in Big 12 play this season.  But the team seems to be peaking as February unfolds.  The team is currently riding a two-game road winning streak with wins at South Carolina and TCU, two very difficult places to play.

And there is reason for Texas Tech fans to be confident when the Red Raiders are on the road.  After losing every Big 12 road game last year, Beard has found a way to get his team to win at Kansas (the program’s first win in Lawrence), one of the toughest places in the country to play.

Still, Tech has a losing record on the road against Big 12 teams with a loss at Oklahoma and back-to-back defeats at Texas and Iowa State.  And now, the Red Raiders must close out the season with four of their final seven games away from home.

Following tonight’s game, Tech faces another set of back-to-back road games versus Baylor a week from today and Oklahoma State a week from this Wednesday.  Additionally, Tech’s final road test could be its toughest test of the season.

Following the home matchup against KU on Saturday, February 24th, Tech must turn right around and travel to West Virginia for a game on the following Monday.  The trip to West Virginia is the toughest in the Big 12 because there is not an airport in Morgantown meaning Tech has to fly into Pittsburg and bus the team 90 minutes south.  (Also, West Virginia is really good at home having lost only to Kansas and Kentucky in Morgantown this year.)

The road to the Big 12 title will be fierce for any team.  Texas Tech has taken a page from the Kansas playbook this year by being perfect at home.  If one is to make the massive assumption that Tech will win out in Lubbock (keep in mind that Tech faces Oklahoma, Kansas, and TCU in those three games) then the Red Raiders can still lose one game on the road and win the league.

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With Kansas only one game back of the Red Raiders and West Virginia lurking only two games back, Tech must win its three road games against unranked teams.  If it fails to do so, the Red Raiders will have their Big 12 destiny taken out of their hands.