Photo CC: AP/ Sue Ogrocki
It’s almost basketball season, media folks and random people (not unlike myself) make bold and sometimes ridiculous predictions. There is often nothing more interesting to see come out every year than each conference’s coaches poll. This year was no different, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders were projected to finish 5th in what looks to be a pretty decent conference this season.
This poll has been interesting over the past few seasons. Last year’s poll projected Texas Tech to finish third and they ended up tied for third but got the 5th seed in the Big 12 Tournament before it was canceled due to COVID-19. The year before, the coaches predicted Tech to finish 7th and they made it all the way to a National Championship. What I mean to say is that the poll is just a way to add fuel to the fire, a way to rile up the fan bases, and actually has little to no effect on the season.
Do I think Texas Tech will finish 5th in the Big 12? No, and here’s five reasons why:
The Red Raiders have the most depth in the Big 12, bar none. Seriously, there’s not one team with more talent and depth than the Red Raiders. Granted, other teams like Kansas and Baylor might be more top-heavy. Those are just two of the teams that finished above the Red Raiders in the Big 12 Coaches Poll.
Coach Beard really has his work cut out for him to create a rotation and get all of these talented guys minutes in his system. I count 11 guys on this roster at least that I think are worthy of playing time in this rotation (I’ll get to who at a later date).
Coach Beard and his staff have been great with making transfers better players overall. This year’s group of transfers is outstanding and makes the two grad-transfers from last year look well, less than adequate. Including Joel Ntambwe, there are four players that transferred in that will get significant playing time this season. Here are some highlights of the transfers coming into the fold this season for the Red Raiders.
3. The Bottom Half of the Big 12 is Better Than You Think
This one is kind of complicated, but the bottom half of the Big 12 is still pretty dang good. Oklahoma has a Hall of Fame Coach and a great guard in Austin Reeves that is going to beat some teams at the top half of the conference. Oklahoma State has the potential Number 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft next season in Cade Cunningham. TCU has a couple of really good frontcourt guys and also brings back a chunk from last year. While Iowa State and Kansas State aren’t looking to be as good as in year’s past, both are good programs that can go and beat anyone at home.
I’m not saying that these teams are going to go out and be world-beaters or anything. What I am saying is that some teams in this conference could overlook one of them, and that will lead to some bad losses at some point. We all know how much respect Coach Beard and his staff give every team they play.
4. Kyler Edwards will become “The Guy” for the Red Raiders
This one is important because last year no one stepped up. The biggest reason I think last year’s team may not have made the NCAA Tournament is that there was an absence of a superstar. This year will be different in my mind.
Kyler Edwards is the guy. This will be his third year in the program and this year there will be a ton of competition at guard with Mac McClung and Jamarius Burton getting their waivers. I think Edwards finally shines for an entire season as he did in the National Championship game. He looks to maybe be the starting shooting guard which is his natural position. His shooting and elite-level playmaking will help propel this team over others in the Big 12, even if the conference isn’t ready to admit that yet.
5. Chris Beard
Yeah, you all knew this one was coming. He, in my opinion, is the best coach in the Big 12 by far with all the money exchanging hands in Kansas. Coach Beard has taken new talent onto his team every year and every year he produces a great team.
This year’s team looks to be deeper than the 2018 Elite Eight team and potentially as talented as the 2019 National Champion Runner-Up team. Coach Beard will definitely help navigate them through a tough Big 12 this season and I believe they will finish higher than 5th in the league.
Where do you think the Red Raiders finish in the Big 12? Let us know in the comments and over on the @GunsUpNation Facebook and Twitter pages!