Texas Tech basketball looking for top-four finish in Big 12

With a win over Baylor, the Texas Tech basketball team would wrap up a top-four finish in the Big 12 regular season. Find out why that's important.

Texas v Texas Tech
Texas v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

It feels hard to believe but we've reached the final regular season game of the Texas Tech basketball season. Fortunately, there's plenty for the Red Raiders to play for against Baylor.

Of course, beating an in-state rival and avoiding the season sweep at the hands of the Bears are two huge motivators. But so too is the possibility to finishing in the top four of the conference standings.

Currently, Tech occupies that fourth-place spot at 10-7 in Big 12 games. However, Kansas is also sitting at 10-7 in the league.

Fortunately, Tech has the tiebreaker over the Jayhawks thanks to last month's 29-point head-to-head win in Lubbock. Thus, Tech could secure the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 by beating the Bears. Also, a Kansas loss at No. 1 Houston would also give the Red Raiders the No. 4 seed.

BYU did have a shot at securing the No. 4 seed but thanks to their loss at Iowa State on Wednesday night, they can finish no better than 10-8 in the Big 12. That wouldn't be good enough to pass the Red Raiders in the standings because Tech holds the head-to-head tiebreaker in that matchup as well.

So why does a top-four finish matter? Because that is the cutoff line for getting a double-bye in the Big 12 tournament.

This year, the 14-team format of the Big 12 Tournament means that the top four teams in the league will get two byes. Therefore, they won't have to play until Thursday's quarterfinals. That also means that to win the championship, and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, those top four teams will have to only win three games in Kansas City.

Maybe for Tech, though, the most important factor would be the extra day of rest. This is a team that is beaten up and in need of all the recovery time it can get. Perhaps one extra day before having to play in Kansas City would be enough to allow Tech to play its best basketball.

Also, with center Warren Washington nursing a foot injury that has him listed as day-to-day, one extra day of rest could be enough to allow him to get back on the floor (assuming he doesn't play against Baylor on Saturday).

Since the Big 12 went to the round-robin format back in 2012, the Red Raiders have finished fourth or better in the conference race only four times. This year, that achievement means more than ever given the extra bye and the extra day of rest in Kansas City.

So in addition to beating the Bears and picking up a resume-boosting Quad-1 win, the Red Raiders would also like to pick up one final win this regular season to secure that top-four finish. That's because it could be what helps set the Red Raiders up for a nice run in the postseason.