As we continue to look forward to the 2020-21 Texas Tech basketball season, let’s look at five potential trap games on the schedule.
Every sports fan fears the trap game. Especially when you are a fan of a team that is expected to be as good as the 2020-21 Texas Tech basketball team is expected to be.
Certainly, a game with the Red Raiders has now become a showcase opportunity for any team in the Big 12 or around the nation. Beating Chris Beard’s team these days is a statement to the nation and an NCAA Tournament resume-boosting achievement and that means that the Red Raiders almost always get other team’s best shot.
We saw that several times last year. For instance, when Tech went to Chicago to play DePaul in their home arena, it was one of the biggest games of the year for the Blue Demons, who would end the year just 16-16 overall. That night in the Windy City, the home team elevated its effort and intensity in a 65-60 OT victory but they were unable to match that as they dropped their next game to Buffalo.
Being as that game fell in between the Las Vegas Invitational and the showdown with No. 1 Louisville in New York City, it could have been a trap game for the Red Raiders. So too could the January 21 game against TCU.
That day, Tech played perhaps its worst second half of last season in a 65-54 loss in Fort Worth. And being as that setback came one game prior to Kentucky’s visit to Lubbock, one has to wonder if the Red Raiders were fully engaged in that contest.
We don’t like to believe that a Chris Beard team will ever look past an opponent. After all, he is the master at preparing his team for the next game on the schedule, regardless of who the opponent may be. But the nature of college athletes, and human beings in general for that matter, is that there will be a let down from time to time, even for one of Beard’s teams.
So with that in mind, let’s look at five potential trap games on this year’s schedule. And we will begin with a home game against a team that is more known for being a football school.
December 6th vs. Grambling
When most of us think about the Grambling Tigers, we think about their football team, which has a storied history. But when we think about Grambling basketball, it is safe to say that our juices don’t really get flowing. We hope that isn’t the case for the Texas Tech basketball team on December 6th when Grambling comes to Lubbock.
The first concern is that this game will be played on a Sunday afternoon. Even in a normal year when the U.S.A. is allowed to hold a full capacity of fans, the rare Sunday afternoon Red Raider hoops game can be a rather sleepy atmosphere. Perhaps the crowd is still mellowed out from that morning’s church services.
But whatever the reason, Sunday afternoon games are often rather docile, even in Lubbock. We saw that first-hand last year when Tech trailed Long Island 42-41 at the half on a Sunday afternoon.
Also making this game a possible trap is the fact that it comes after two of the most high-profile non-conference games on the schedule, the November 29th game against No. 17 Houston in Fort Worth and the December 3rd visit from St. John’s as part of the Big 12/Big East Challenge.
What’s more, the next game is a sneaky good matchup with Abilene Christian. Playing against a mid-major team that is a two-time defending conference champion will certainly be a game that the Red Raiders look forward to as well.
But will Tech give Grambling the same respect? That’s going to be worth keeping an eye on when this game rolls around.
Grambling finished last year 17-15 overall and enters this year with a pair of preseason all-conference selections in point guard Ivy Smith and forward Devante Jackson, both of whom are seniors and who will not be intimidated by playing the Red Raiders. Therefore, this game may not be as much of a blowout as most expect it to be based on the pedigree of the two programs, especially if Tech doesn’t come into this game fully locked in.