Now that Texas Tech has advanced to the Final Four for the first time, the big question is, “How good of a chance do the Red Raiders have to win it all?”
Given their success in the NCAA tournament so far, we'd say a very good one.
Here are five reasons why Texas Tech can win the national championship as it prepares for its semifinal game against Michigan State on Saturday.
1). Historic defense
The defense for the Red Raiders hasn’t been just good this year. In fact, one can argue it hasn’t just been great. It’s been historic.
Texas Tech has suffocated good offensive teams all year and has the top defensive efficiency in the country, according to kenpom.com.
Gonzaga had its third-lowest scoring game of the season in a regional final loss to the Red Raiders, while Michigan was held to an abysmal 44 points in a regional semifinal by Texas Tech.
Center Tariq Owens is a long-armed shot-blocking force inside, while guards Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney are good perimeter defenders.
Good defense always travels for teams, and with the best defense in the country, it’s a big reason why it’s taken Texas Tech to the Final Four.
2). They have the best player in the Final Four
Don’t ask us. Ask the NBA scouts. Of all the four remaining teams, only one has a likely lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, and that is Texas Tech in the form of sophomore forward Jarrett Culver.
The Big 12 Player of the Year, Culver is an all-around force capable of winning games by himself. He’s averaging 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
3). Perimeter shooting
In this era, every championship team needs it, and the Red Raiders have sharpshooters from the outside.
Mooney is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, while Moretti is even better, making an incredible 46.3 percent of his 3-point shots this year. Kyler Edwards and Deshawn Corprew haven’t attempted nearly the number of 3-pointers as Moretti and Mooney, but they are still threats from the outside.
Edwards is 28-of-64 from 3-point range (43.8 percent), while Corprew is 20-of-49 (40.8 percent).
While Michigan State is a team with a short bench due to injuries and youngsters on the roster, the Red Raiders have a steady eight-man rotation that allows the starters to get a breather and stay somewhat fresh throughout the game. Francis came off of the bench to play 27 minutes against Gonzaga, Edwards played 15 while Corprew played eight minutes. None of the starters played more than 35 minutes.
5). Wide-open field
Often at Final Fours, traditional powerhouses such as Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky stand in the way. Or if not those programs, you might find a loaded squad like last year's Villanova team.
That’s not the case this year. Of the four teams in the Final Four, only Michigan State has won a national championship in its history. The Spartans have won two titles, but none since 2000. Texas Tech will head to Minneapolis knowing it has as good of a shot as anybody.