As part of its preview of the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense statistics are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All other advanced stats are also from kenpom.com (unless noted otherwise), and are through March 14.
Record: 19-12, 9-9 Big 12
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 113.5 (28th)/100.1 (93rd)
Seed: No. 8 in Midwest Regional
Impact player: Toddrick Gotcher, senior, guard. 11.1 ppg, 40.0 3-pt%, 85.7 FT%
The Case For: The Red Raiders looked headed for another season of irrelevancy after they started Big 12 play 2-6, but a three-game winning streak against ranked opponents—No. 14 Iowa State, No. 21 Baylor on the road and No. 3 Oklahoma—in mid-February got them in contention for their first NCAA tournament bid since Bob Knight took them there four times from 2002 to '07. That's a credit to head coach Tubby Smith, the Big 12 coach of the year, who has now brought five schools to the Big Dance and won the 1998 national championship with Kentucky. His team is led by seniors Gotcher and Devaugntah Williams, but the foundation of Tech's success this year and in the future is due to sophomores Keenan Evans, Justin Gray, Norense Odiase and Zach Smith. Smith, a 6'8" forward, might be the best of the group. He leads the team with 7.4 rebounds per game and is their most valuable big man. He'll need to stay out of foul trouble for the Red Raiders to have any hopes of advancing.
The Case Against: Texas Tech might be a year away. It enters the tournament fresh off a loss to lowly TCU in the Big 12 tournament and hasn't won a single postseason game since the 2013 Big 12 tournament. Smith has plenty of NCAA experience, but this is the first time in the tournament for every player on the roster, none of whom average more than 12 points per game. What's more, the Red Raiders were the worst rebounding team in the Big 12 and allow opponents to grab almost one-third of their missed shots. That inability to limit teams to one shot per possession undermines an offense that is surprisingly efficient and could be what keeps their postseason losing streak intact.
SI Prediction: Lose to No. 9 Butler in first round