As the Maui Invitational approaches, a showdown between the No. 23 Texas Tech Red Raiders with Daniel Batcho and the No. 10 Creighton Blue Jays with Ryan Kalkbrenner looms large. With both teams undefeated and establishing themselves as contenders, the game is vital for both.
Texas Tech and Creighton look to create matchup problems
At the start of the 2022-2023 college basketball season, Texas Tech looks to be picking up where it left off last season. The Red Raiders are once again looking like one of the best defenses in college basketball, with the team ranking in the top twenty in several categories.
The offense looks like it will be a collective effort again this year, although there are some changes thanks to new assistant coach Steve Green. Kevin Obanor finds himself leading the new offensive in points per game, although a big night from anyone against Creighton could change that.
With the Red Raiders not relying on any one player for scoring, Creighton will need to be ready for everyone on Texas Tech to contribute.
While the college basketball season is only beginning, the Creighton Blue Jays are establishing themselves as one of the better teams in the nation. The Blue Jays are not seeing as even of a stat distribution as the Red Raiders, but four players are double-digit per game scorers.
Still, Creighton is being led in points by 7’1” center Ryan Kalkbrenner and in assists by Ryan Nembhard, the young brother of Indiana Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard. Kalkbrenner and Nembhard have looked great to start the season and are a big part of the Blue Jays’ ranking.
Kalkbrenner’s double-digit offensive rebounds have helped the Blue Jays become a top-fifteen team in rebounding margin. Nembhard is top twenty in assists per game, which is part of the reason that Creighton is in the top ten in the assist/turnover ratio.
Creighton’s sheer efficiency on both ends of the floor means Texas Tech must capitalize on the mistakes that the Blue Jays make. Nothing will come easy for either team, especially given how little both teams foul.
Both teams are among the best in not committing fouls, as both are in the top twenty for the least fouls per game. Creighton is third in the country, while the Red Raiders are tied for fourteenth.
With either team unlikely to find themselves in foul trouble, the usual rotations should be in effect for both teams. As a result, Texas Tech’s Daniel Batcho should see plenty of Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner.
Daniel Batcho versus Ryan Kalkbrenner may determine the outcome of the game
Creighton’s two Ryans both represent problems for the Red Raiders, but Kalkbrenner could exploit them in ways the few other teams can. With Fardaws Aimaq still on the shelf, Daniel Batcho is the main player capable of contending with Kalkbrenner’s size.
At 6’11”, Batcho is still a few inches shorter than the 7’1” Kalkbrenner, but Batcho is significantly closer than any other healthy Red Raider. Kevin Obanor has seen some time at center this season, but he stands at 6’8”, which is smaller than three members of the Blue Jays rotation.
While Obanor may be able to hold his own against the smaller big men of Creighton, Batcho is the best option to put pressure on Ryan Kalkbrenner on both ends of the floor given how well Daniel Batcho has played to start the season.
Red Raiders’ Daniel Batcho is in the midst of a breakout season
With three games down in the 2022-2023 college basketball season, Batcho has taken on a much more significant role for the Red Raiders. Whether it be due to the injury to Aimaq or more faith from Coach Mark Adams, Batcho’s minutes are up significantly from last season.
The increased time on the floor has the French big man leading the team in rebounds and blocks after a stellar performance against Louisiana Tech. Granted, seven rebounds, six blocks, and nine points against the Bulldogs is not the most spectacular state line, but it was impactful.
Perhaps more impactful than the stats Daniel Batcho put up are the minutes he played. He played thirty minutes against Louisiana Tech, which means he should be able to play against Ryan Kalkbrenner for the entire game.
While Crieghton and Ryan Kalkbrenner will be a step up in competition for Batcho and the Red Raiders, it also presents a real breakout opportunity. If Daniel Batcho can deliver another strong performance at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the Red Raiders could pull off the upset.
Since Texas Tech does not have another ranked team on the schedule until conference play, this game means plenty for the rest of the season too. A big win cements Texas Tech and Daniel Batcho as something the rest of college basketball needs to watch.