Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders No. 14 in first A.P. poll

Monday, the season’s first Associated Press poll was released and the Texas Tech basketball program checks in at No. 14.

There once was a time when Texas Tech basketball fans couldn’t have cared less about the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll.  As recently as just five years ago, the only reason Red Raider fans had to check the year’s first poll would be to find out how highly through-of the top end of the conference was.

But now, the release of the preseason poll has become highly anticipated and this year was no exception.  Monday, the A.P. released its first rankings and Tech sits at No. 14.  It’s the second-straight year in which the Red Raiders have opened the year as a ranked team after opening last year at No. 13.

Tech is one of five Big 12 teams in this year’s preseason rankings.  Baylor checks in at No. 2 behind Gonzaga.  After that, you will find Villanova, Virginia, and Iowa before Kansas comes in at No. 6.

One spot behind the Red Raiders, at No. 15, is West Virginia.  Finally, Texas can be found at 19 as the last conference team in the preseason top 25.

What’s interesting is that the A.P. voters think more highly of the Red Raiders than the Big 12 coaches do.  Tech is the third-highest ranked Big 12 team in the poll but was picked only fifth in the conference preseason poll, which is voted on by the league’s coaches.

Hopefully, this year takes a better turn after the preseason poll’s release than last year did.  That’s because, by the fifth week of last season, Tech had fallen out of the rankings thanks to back-to-back losses to Iowa and Creighton in the Las Vegas Invitational the week of Thanksgiving.

Of course, by week seven the Red Raiders were back in the poll at No. 24 after upsetting No. 1 Louisville in New York City.  Chris Beard’s team would eventually move up to No. 18 in the polls by week 12 after amassing a 12-5 overall record.

But consecutive losses to TCU and Kentucky would see Tech fall back out of the top 25 by week 13.  From that point on, Tech would get no higher in the polls than No. 22 and the Red Raiders would finish the year unranked thanks to a four-game losing streak that preceded the season’s untimely shutdown.

This year, the Red Raiders have much higher aspirations and will be looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year in which the event has been held.  That’s never happened in program history.

It appears that the A.P. voters believe that will happen as they have Tech as one of the best teams in the country to open the year.  Soon, we will have the opportunity to find out if Tech can validate that honor on the court.