Final games crucial for Red Raiders

At this time last week it was already clear how important the final two games on the Texas Tech schedule would be, but with a pair of losses in the last week these games could determine the fate of the Red Raiders' season.

Texas Tech is currently on the outside looking in. Even with the extra bye in this season's Big Twelve Tournament, thanks to the Baylor Bears, the Red Raiders are sitting in fifth place behind Missouri, who currently controls the fifth and final bye in the conference tournament. The good news for Bob Knight's Red Raiders is that their next game is against Missouri, and it's in Lubbock. A win against Missouri would keep Texas Tech in the hunt for the fifth seed in the conference tournament. Texas Tech would still have to beat Iowa State next weekend, and hope that Kansas can defeat Missouri next Saturday. If those events transpire, Texas Tech would claim the fifth seed in the tournament, and a much needed first round bye.

Even without the possibility of a bye in the conference tournament, these games are crucial if the Red Raiders want to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing the field last season. The Red Raiders currently have an overall record of 19-9, with a conference record of 7-7. A win in either of these last two games would give the Red Raiders twenty wins on the season, and would guarantee at least a .500 record in conference play. That along with an RPI ranked at number 33 by should be enough to guarantee a spot in the big dance. The problems come when you look at the possibility of losing both games. That would not only leave Texas Tech with less than 20 wins, but also a losing record in conference play, something that the selection committee tends to dislike. Another hit to the resume of the Red Raiders would be a 7-3 record in their last ten regular season games. Of course this could all be erased by winning the conference tournament, but no team has ever won the Big Twelve tournament without receiving a first round bye.

The situation for the Red Raiders is simple. Win and you're in. Two wins to finish the season would allow Texas Tech to punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament. A loss in either of these last two games, especially a loss to Iowa State would place Texas Tech squarely on the bubble, hoping for a good run in the conference tournament to bolster their resume. Two losses and the Red Raiders will probably be looking at another trip to the NIT.

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