This is a tournament about veteran toughness and decision-making, and Texas Tech’s defense makes it difficult for opposing offenses to make good decisions.
In the West Regional, Tech faced two well-coached offenses, one of which was the top-scoring team in the country. Michigan couldn’t function and Gonzaga found its usual productive drives turning into blocked shots, missed shots and turnovers.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard is the fastest-rising star on a college basketball sideline. In his second season, he took Tech to its first Elite Eight. In his third season, he has brought Tech here to Minnesota for its first Final Four. This isn’t a one-shot, magic-moment, underdog story. This is a testament to coaching, defense and mental toughness.
None of which would matter so much if the Red Raiders didn’t have offensive talent. Sophomore Jarrett Culver, at 6-5, is a pure shooter who can also weave his way to the basket or dunk over a defender. South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney shoots with range and passes with intelligence.
Point guard Davide Moretti scores when needed and can be creative at the rim. Forward Tariq Owens is a gifted shot-blocker and fierce rebounder.
On paper, it’s easy to wonder how Tech will score enough to keep up with a more-talented team. But when you watch their games, the question quickly becomes: How is the opponent going to score?
Michigan State will provide Tech’s toughest test of the tournament. Tom Izzo will have all week to find cracks in Tech’s defense, and he can rely on veteran point guard in Cassius Winston.
But Texas Tech’s active hands and eager help defense frustrates opponents, taking them out of their comfort zone.
If this sounds strange, you haven’t been paying attention:
Texas Tech basketball is good enough to win it all.