Texas Tech basketball: Is the Cold War between the Red Raiders and A&M beginning to thaw?

Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt - News Conference
Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt - News Conference / John Weast/GettyImages

Tuesday, Texas Tech and Texas A&M announced a home-and-home series on the basketball court in 2024 and 2025 with next year's game to be played in Lubbock. The resumption of this rivalry is an important development for a number of reasons and may give Red Raider fans hope that competing against other former Big 12 in-state rivals will remain a possibility in more meaningful ways than just a preseason exhibition game for charity.

"I think this is a big part of what makes college basketball so great," Texas Tech coachGrant McCasland said. "To have a series between historic rivals is important to continue. We are thrilled about the opportunity to compete against the Aggies and know that this will benefit our team and schedule. I know the environment at United Supermarkets Arena will be elite. Our fans will love to be a part of this game next year."

The two teams first met on the hardwood in 1941 and the series has been close with Tech holding a 64-61 all-time advantage. However, the Aggies have won the last six games against the Red Raiders.

Of course, this announcement is about more than just basketball. When Texas Tech and Texas A&M are involved, politics, emotions, and self-interest all have prominent seats at the table.

From a purely basketball perspective, it is refreshing to finally get a premiere non-conference game in Lubbock. The last time Tech was able to host an intriguing non-Big 12 opponent was in 2020 when Kentucky came to United Supermarkets Arena as part of the now-defunct Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Since then, it has been tough for the program to find any type of recognizable name to play in Lubbock given how challenging it's become for opposing teams to leave the South Plains with a win. Even the teams sent to West Texas to play in the SEC Challenge or the current Big 12/Big East Battle have been less than interesting with a down-and-out Georgetown team last season having the best brand recognition of any non-con team to visit the Red Raiders in recent years.

Off the court, though, this is also a significant step in the relationship between Tech and A&M. Now, no one is suggesting that the Red Raiders and Aggies should become best friends on the college landscape. However, being able to agree to a home-and-home series in the second most popular and important college sport is a step toward thawing the relationship between the two athletic departments.

Ultimately, it is nice to see Tech and A&M at least pretend to get along if for no other reason than it allows for opportunities for the Red Raiders and Aggies to meet in athletic competitions that matter to the respective fan bases. Sure, Tech did play A&M in a neutral-site baseball game a few years ago, a game that went to extra innings and didn't finish until the early hours of the morning meaning that most fans didn't see its conclusion.

However, there has appeared to be resistance to playing Tech on the part of the A&M leadership since the Aggies left the Big 12 in 2012. Of course, the football series between the two schools has remained dormant since then. That's not likely to change anytime soon, either.

What's been surprising though, is that A&M managed to sidestep any matchups with Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge in basketball that ran for a decade. In an event conceived purely for ratings, it would have made sense to pit Tech and A&M against one another at least twice in the ten years of that event. However, the Aggies had no desire to facilitate that meaning that Tech got to play teams like Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, and LSU instead.

Fortunately, Texas Tech head coach Grant McCasland and A&M head coach Buzz Williams appear to have a good relationship. Thus, they each played pivotal roles in getting this series scheduled.

The two universities will be better off for those efforts. College sports are all about hate and the revival of this rivalry on the hardwood is going to provide some juice to the home slate of each program.

More importantly, though, might this be the spark to fuel the potential resumption of games between Texas Tech and Texas A&M across the board? While no Red Raider enjoys seeing Aggies infest Lubbock, the reality is that beating A&M in any sport from basketball to team prairie dog racing is about as satisfying as it gets.

Now, Tech hoops will have two marquee opportunities to give Red Raider fans that type of satisfaction. Maybe, if these two games go off without controversy, this will be the first step in ending what has been a Lone Star version of the Cold War and who knows, maybe down the line, it will mean that the football rivalry can be reborn, even if it is at a neutral site or in a bowl game.

Texas and A&M should compete in more tangible ways than the barbs traded between the fan bases on social media. The two rival institutions need to settle matters on the field, court, or diamond as often as possible. That will happen on the hardwood in the next two seasons and one can only hope it leads the two programs to a renewed desire to reignite as many of the rivalries between the two schools as possible...especially the one that everyone wants to see most.