Red Raiders show strength despite loss

The Texas Tech Red Raiders may have lost to Texas on Monday night, but the loss also showed that they are ready to be considered along with the other top teams in the Big Twelve despite what the preseason polls may have said.

Before the season started, the Big Twelve Coach's poll had Texas Tech in the seventh spot behind Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. Despite these preseason rankings the Red Raiders are currently 4-1 in conference play, which ties them for second place in the conference. They also have victories over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the first third of conference play. That means that right now, Texas Tech is in good position to earn a first round bye in the Big Twelve Tournament. In the brief history of the Big Twelve these byes have been critical. No team that has played on the first day of the tournament has ever won the tournament.

Numbers don't tell the whole story about Texas Tech. This team has seen a transformation over the past year. A team that once had to rely on Andre Emmett to guide the offense took Texas to overtime in a game that saw Emmett only score 9 points. The emergence of Ronald Ross has added a second scorer to the team on a consistent basis. Perhaps the most important change has been the addition of Jarrius Jackson. The freshman has run Bob Knight's motion offense with the type of precision that is rarely seen by seniors, much less a freshman. His grasp of the offense has allowed Texas Tech to become a much more diverse team. The mix of inside and outside play is somewhat reminiscent of Bob Knight's first season in the hub city. The similarities don't stop there though. This team has also shown that a group of newcomers can in fact learn Coach Knight's motion offense and execute it well. In 2001-2002 all of the players were new to the system. While it isn't that drastic this season, the ability of newcomers to contribute might be the most impressive thing this season. After an off year, the General has things back on track.

Where does this all place Texas Tech in the national picture? According to, Texas Tech currently has the thirteenth best RPI rating in the country. That's the best RPI in the Big Twelve. Kansas is at number 18, while Texas and Oklahoma State are at 22nd and 25th respectively. The Red Raiders' RPI should put them in line for a seed somewhere in the three to five range. This of course assumes that Texas Tech takes care of business. If they do things could get even better. A conference championship and/or a tournament championship could very well move the Red Raiders up another notch in the NCAA bracket.

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