Tough potential second-round matchups
With all apologies to Montana State, Texas Tech fans certainly expect to see the Red Raiders playing in Sunday’s second-round. Of course, the coaches and players will not be taking the Bobcats for granted but for the sake of this article, we will and we’ll shift our focus to the second game Tech will play in the tournament.
There is no scenario in which Tech will have a breeze through that round. That’s because the Red Raiders would face one of three quality major-conference opponents.
If the seedings hold, Tech would square off with No. 6 Alabama. That’s a dangerous team in the second round.
This year, the Crimson Tide has scored wins over Baylor, Gonzaga, Houston, Tennessee, LSU, and Arkansas. In other words, they have no problem taking down excellent teams.
What makes the Tide so scary of a matchup is that they can score with any team in the country. Averaging an impressive 80 points per game, Bama has three players averaging at least 12 points per game. And what’s worse for Tech is that those three players are guards. (After all, we know that guard play has been something Tech has struggled to defend at times this year.)
But if Bama isn’t Tech’s second-round matchup, it will either be Rutgers out of the Big 10 or Notre Dame out of the ACC. Both are formidable.
Earlier this year, Rutgers took down Purdue when the Boilermakers were No. 1 in the nation. They also have wins over Michigan, Maryland, and a very good Iowa team. Then there was the stretch in February when the Scarlet Knights beat Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois in consecutive games when each of those four teams was ranked in the top 16 nationally.
As for the Fighting Irish, they have wins over Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and Syracuse on their resume. In other words, they will be no pushover in this tournament.
Sometimes, a No. 11 seed can be an overachieving team from a mid-major. Other times, that seed goes to a team from a major conference that may not have truly deserved a bid but got into the Big Dance on reputation alone. But both Rutgers and Notre Dame are legitimate threats and could pose a stiff test for Tech should either one upset Bama on Friday.
The point is that for Tech to get out of San Diego and on to San Francisco, the Red Raiders will have to do some work in the second round. That’s because this quadrant of the West Region features some teams that could very well pull off an upset or two this year.