Thursday, the Texas Tech basketball program shared with fans a bit of scheduling news. Sending out a graphic on social media platforms that showed which Big 12 opponents they will face at home and which they will face on the road, the Red Raiders provided a little bit of clarity about what will be one of the most intriguing regular-season schedules in recent program history.
Though we still don’t know the order in which these games will fall, nor do we know what Tech’s full non-conference slate will look like, the revelation of the home and away conference opponents is the first step in helping fans figure out just how the league will proceed with scheduling now that there are too many teams in the mix to stick with the double round-robin format that has been its calling card since the conference dropped to just 10 members in 2011-12.
For over a decade, fans could count on seeing every conference opponent come to Lubbock while also watching the Red Raiders pay a visit to every other port of call in the league. That won’t be the case this year with 14 teams now grouped together for just one season.
That left the conference with some interesting factors to consider when trying to put together a conference schedule that is both fair and intriguing. It harkens back to the days of the original Big 12 when there was a North and South division.
In that setup, a school would play every other team in its division both home and away while playing the teams from the other division just once alternating those matchup sites every year. Thus, Tech would face schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa State in Lubbock just once every two seasons.
The days of the round-robin schedule actually made for a better product though. Forcing each team to visit the home area of every other conference rival, that format made the Big 12 the toughest and most competitive conference in the nation with no team being able to benefit from an easier schedule than any other.
That won’t be the case moving forward and, frankly, it is a bit sad. Now, having to decide which teams get an easier road through the season and which get a tougher draw from the league will be a yearly exercise.
Therefore, it will be imperative that the league schedule-makers come up with a formula that will be made public. That way, there can be no accusations of unfairness or bias when it comes to this all-important aspect of the basketball season.
What makes it tougher is that there doesn’t appear to be a ton of talk about having divisions when the league returns to 12 members starting in the 2024-25 season. While divisional play could happen, if it doesn’t, the conference will have to be creative and forward-thinking as it has been forced to be since the announced departures of Texas and OU and the additions of Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida, and BYU.
For one year, though, the league seems to have come up with a plan, and though that methodology wasn’t revealed to the public, the announcements of the home and away games for each team have given us something to chew on as we slog through the summer wasteland. So let’s take a look at the intriguing aspects of what we learned about the Red Raiders’ schedule on Thursday.