Five Reasons Texas Tech Could Reach Final Four

LUBBOCK, TX - February 07: Justin Gray
LUBBOCK, TX - February 07: Justin Gray /
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With the beginning of the NCAA Tournament this week, millions of people across the nation are sure to be filling out their brackets and picking their Final Four.  Here are five reasons to believe that Texas Tech could reach San Antonio.

March Madness is finally here and this year’s tournament is the most anticipated in Texas Tech history.  Following a regular season that saw the Red Raiders reach the program’s highest ranking ever (No.5) and spend more weeks ranked in the top 10 than in any other season, there is reason to believe that this year’s team could reach never-before-seen heights.

Texas Tech has never advanced past the Sweet 16 reaching the regional semifinal twice (1996 and 2005).  However, this year’s team seems to be the one that could make history and advance to the Elite 8 or beyond .  Here are five reasons to believe that Texas Tech could reach the program’s first Final Four.

Senior Leadership

The game of college basketball has turned into a showcase for the “one and done” freshmen.  High-profile stars destined to spend only one season in college before bolting for the NBA drive the national headlines.  However, those types of players are not guaranteed to take their teams to the Final Four.

Look no further than last year.  None of the participants, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon or South Carolina featured a one-and-done star.

Rather, these teams were built on the backs of experienced upperclassmen.  Both teams in the championship game, Carolina and Gonzaga featured four upperclassmen as their top scorers.  Likewise, four of Oregon’s top five scorers were upperclassmen.

The one outlier of the group was South Carolina (a team to which Texas Tech is often compared).  The Gamecocks had only two seniors among its top six scorers but were led by a dominant senior guard, Sindarius Thornwell who put up 21.4 points per game.  He played a role very similar to that of Keenan Evans showing that a senior star can carry a team to the Final Four.

Texas Tech is one of the most experienced teams in the country.  Though the team’s second and third-leading scorers are true freshmen, they are surrounded by senior leaders.

The Red Raiders receive 41.8 points per game from seniors.  Furthermore, the senior leaders on the team are some of the best defenders (Zach Smith, Niem Stevenson, Justin Gray) and rebounders on the roster.

There are a number of teams in the East regional that feature senior stars.  Purdue has Isaac Hawes, West Virginia Jevon Carter, Wichita State with Shaquille Morris but no team in Texas Tech’s quadrant of the bracket receives more quality contributions across the stat sheet than the Red Raiders.

Seniors are far less likely than freshmen to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment.  Four of the Red Raiders seniors (if you count Norense Odiase who is a redshirt junior) were on the Texas Tech tournament team two years ago.  They experienced the pain of an early exit and are determined to avoid that fate again this year.