Texas Tech basketball to return Madison Square Garden next season

The Texas Tech basketball team will reportedly be part of the Jimmy V Classic next season, marking the third-straight season in which the Red Raiders have played at Madison Square Garden.

For more proof of the fact that the Texas Tech basketball program is gaining traction as one of the more intriguing programs in the nation, look no further than the fact that the Red Raiders will reportedly be returning to the world’s most famous area next season for a marquee event on the college basketball calendar.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Tech will participate in the 2019 Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City.   On Twitter, Rothstein reported Tuesday that Tech will be joined in the event by three traditional college basketball powers in UConn, Louisville and Indiana.  This event is a one-night only doubleheader meaning Tech will face only one of those teams.  It has yet to be announced which will be the Red Raiders’ opponent.

This season, Louisville went 20-14 overall and lost to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Indiana had a disappointing 19-16 season that resulted in an NIT appearance.  As for  UCONN, the Huskies struggled to a 16-17 record that saw them miss the postseason as their 3-year NCAA Tournament drought continued.

Speaking of three-year streaks, this will mark he third-consecutive season in which Tech has played at Madison Square Garden, a sign that the Red Raiders are trending upwards in terms of national interest.  Playing at the most high-profile arena in the world is an honor that is reserved for only programs that generate significant interest and the fact that a school from West Texas is becoming an annual visitor to MSG is an indication the the nation wants to see more of the Red Raiders.

But hopefully the third trip will have more positive results than the last two.  In November of 2017, the Red Raiders lost to Seaton Hall 89-79 for their first loss of the season and their only non-conference setback.  And last year, Tech fell to No. 2 Duke 69-58 in what was once again, the only blemish on the non-conference slate.

Held in honor of the late college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who led NC State to the 1983 national title in a historic upset over Houston, the Jimmy V classic has been held annually since 1995 and at Madison Square Garden since 2003 to help raise funds for the V Foundation for cancer research.

Organized and broadcast by ESPN, this four-team event is usually held at the beginning of December providing participants with excellent publicity at a time when the nation’s sports consciousness begins to turn towards college basketball following the end of the college football regular season.

Last year, the event featured West Virginia, Florida, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated Notre Dame 85-80 and the Gators handled the Mountaineers 66-56.

In recent years, some of the most high-profile programs in the nation have participated in this event.  Gonzaga, Syracuse, Villanova, Texas, Michigan State, Kansas and Virginia have all been featured in the V Classic in the past decade.

Though we will not know the full 2019-20 Texas Tech basketball schedule for quite some time, we can piece together portions of the non-conference slate and what we know thus far indicates that the Red Raiders will once again be facing some tough  teams away from Lubbock.

On November 28-29, Tech will participate in the Las Vegas Invitational (which is a traditional 4-team tournament) along with Creighton, San Diego State and Iowa.  And in the inaugural Big 12 / Big East Challenge, the Red Raiders will travel to Chicago to take on DePaul on a date yet to be announced.

Additionally, Tech will face an SEC opponent in the annual Big 12 / SEC Challenge, held each January.  Though Tech hosted Arkansas in the event last year, most assume that the Red Raiders will be home for this event in 2020 given that they have to play on the road in the Big East Challenge.

As the Red Raiders continue to benefit from the notoriety gained as a result of last month’s Final Four appearance, it should be increasingly common for the program to be featured in high-profile events such as the Jimmy V Classic.  But at some point, Kirby Hocutt and Chris Beard are going to have to figure out how to bring some of these intriguing non-conference games to Lubbock.

Beard has indicated in the past that Power 5 teams have been reluctant to schedule home-and-home games with the Red Raiders given how daunting of a task it has become to play at United Supermarkets Arena.  But the fans n Lubbock deserve a better slate of home non-con games than they got last year when Abilene Christian and Northern Colorado were the two best teams to come to West Texas prior to the start of Big 12 play.

But for now, Tech is doing well to be invited to events such as the Jimmy V Classic.  Having an opportunity to showcase the program at MSG against Duke was a springboard for last year’s team both on the court and in the eyes of many media members and national pundits.  Now, Tech will have a similar opportunity in the 2019 Jimmy V Classic and we can only hope that another appearance in New York propels the team to another deep run in March.