Red Raiders fighting for bye

The Texas Tech Red Raiders started off conference play strong, but recent struggles have left the Red Raiders tied with three other teams who are fighting for two first round byes in the Big Twelve Tournament. What is it going to take for Texas Tech to claim one of those spots?

Last night's loss in Boulder kept the Red Raiders from moving into sole possession of fourth place in the Big Twelve standings, but the chances of finishing fourth aren't lost yet. Texas Tech's schedule gets a lot easier in upcoming games. The Red Raiders have only two road games in their final five contests, something that favors Texas Tech who have only lost one game in the United Spirit arena this season. The other factor that plays into the hands of coach Bob Knight is the relative weakness of the upcoming schedule. The only game where the Red raiders should be underdogs is in Austin versus the Longhorns. Aside from that game nobody else should pose too much of a threat. The game against Missouri is the only worrisome game left on the schedule. Missouri is currently on a three game winning streak, and does have the talent to make it a game. My prediction is that the Red Raiders only lose one more game, and finish the season with a 10-6 record in conference play. That should be good enough for fifth place and a first round bye.

Oklahoma is another of the teams tied for fourth in the Conference right now. The Sooners face a much tougher final five games than Texas Tech. Games against Texas, and a game in Kansas, look like sure losses for an Oklahoma team that has won six of its last eight contests. Their game at Colorado could be close. The Sooners do have on thing on their side though. Oklahoma needs a strong finish along with a good run in the conference tournament in order to ensure a spot in the NCAA tournament. My prediction is that Oklahoma loses against Texas and Kansas to finish with a 9-7 record in the Big Twelve.

Colorado, fresh of a victory over the Red Raiders might also be in the best spot to take the fourth spot in the conference. The Buffaloes have only one notable opponent, the Sooners, who visit Boulder on the twenty-fifth. Colorado also holds the head to head tie breaker over Texas Tech. My prediction is that Colorado loses to Oklahoma to finish with a 10-6 record in Conference play. After the tie breaker, the Buffaloes should be in fourth place in the Big Twelve.

Missouri is the fourth team in this bunch, and they will face the toughest schedule. The Tigers will host both Oklahoma State and Kansas, and travel to Lubbock to battle Texas Tech. With a schedule like this Missouri will be lucky to lose less than three games before the season ends. My prediction is that the Tigers will in fact lose all three of those games to finish with an 8-8 record in Big Twelve play, forcing them to play on the first day of the Big Twelve tournament.

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