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March Madness 101: A Beginners Guide

Photo CC: Texas Tech Basketball

Texas Tech’s relatively recent success in basketball has made it hard for even the most casual Red Raider fan to ignore. This season has resulted in the team’s fifth appearance in the Big Dance in the last seven seasons. Prior to the 2015-2016 season, Texas Tech had only made the tournament five times since the 1993-1994 season. The program has shown the ability to thrive even under a coaching change. But what if you are a little late for this basketball party? No matter, you are welcome here. But it can be overwhelming with all of these die-hards talking about Cinderella and “Onions” and the Bubble. Don’t fret; you are in luck. This is your March Madness 101 crash course.

How Good Is Texas Tech?

In short, very good. The tournament has 68 teams in it, and Texas Tech is ranked as a No. 3 seed. Per the NCAA’s website, “Overall, No. 3 seeds are 122-22 in the first round after they went 3-1 in 2021 and all four No. 3 seeds won in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Only seven No. 3 seeds in the past 13 years have failed to advance to the second round.” A No. 3 seeded team has only won the entire tournament four times since the field expanded to 64 in 1985. So Texas Tech isn’t the favorite but is a strong enough team to make it to the Final Four.

“Hey Chief, Back It Up. What’s The Structure?”

My apologizes. You will hear about a few “play-in” games to finalize the 64-team bracket. Once those games have concluded there are four, 16-team sections of the bracket. There are teams ranked 1-16 in each of these brackets, and the best-seeded team opens the tournament against the worst-seeded team. It is a single-elimination tournament that requires a team to win six consecutive games to win a national championship. The tournament’s first and second-round games will run from Thursday, March 17th-Sunday March 20th. From there each round has a catchy name; Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and the Final Four before reaching the national championship game.

“Ok, Thanks. So What Should I Expect From Texas Tech?”

It’s called March Madness for a reason. Again from the NCAA, “Twenty-two 14 seeds have upset 3 seeds since 1985, giving them a 22-122 record all-time. That equates to a 15.3 win percentage.” So on the surface, Texas Tech should win its first game. The Red Raiders are the better team. But during the regular season, Texas Tech has lost games against teams that did not even make the tournament. This basketball team, led by AP Big 12 Coach of the year Mark Adams, has a tremendous defense. The defense should be present every game, and in the opening game, a solid defensive effort alone should secure a victory.

“Sweet, So Outside Of Something Going Really Wrong They Should Win At Least One Game?”

“Should Win” is a term you want to be careful throwing around during March Madness. But all things considered, that would be correct. Now, Texas Tech has to turn around and play their next game just 48 hours later. Each game is going to be tougher to win than the last. The Red Raiders swarming defense isn’t going to be enough to win six straight games. Texas Tech has shown the unfortunate ability to go ice cold offensively for long stretches of the game throughout the year. So bad in fact, the casual fan might think that a lid has been put over the hoop. It is worth noting that based purely on seeding, Texas Tech should (there’s that word again) win again and get to the Sweet 16.

March Madness 101 First Intermission

Just as soon as the madness of the opening two rounds starts, it all ends so abruptly. One important lesson for those of you just signing up for our March Madness 101 class, catch your breath. If Texas Tech has held its seed, it is just one of 16 teams remaining that has a chance to hoist the national championship trophy. Exciting isn’t it? There is a reason why teams hang those big banners in their arenas celebrating the accomplishment of making the Sweet 16. After soaking it all in, what is the expectation for a Red Raider team who is still alive?

Everything Is Gravy

Strictly speaking from the seeding that Texas Tech has earned, this is where the season ends. The Red Raiders, just as all the teams playing at this stage of the tournament, are playing the cream of the college basketball crop. But that doesn’t mean it has to end. Remember that stifling defense I referenced earlier? It ranks 13th nationally in points allowed per game (60.7). They also rank 19th nationally in turnovers forced per game (16.03). At this stage in the tournament, the defense has to play at its peak. If the defense is unwavering, the offensive effort does not have to be elite. It just has to be good. That is the recipe to get to the Elite Eight.

You might be thinking, “If there are only eight teams left, Texas Tech has to play just as good if not better to move on right?” To which I would say, no need to overthink it. That is correct. If we are going to keep this March Madness 101 class at the 101 level, then there isn’t a need to overthink how they can win. If you feel comfortable with the progress made in our 101 class, then feel free to dive into KenPom rankings, specific matchups, etc. But if you just are looking to not feel lost when fellow Red Raider fans are congregating around a TV to cheer them on in the Elite Eight, just stick to making comments about how good the defense needs to continue to be.

“OMG! They Won! Why Are They Cutting Down The Net?”

If Texas Tech finds a way to spring a minor upset and win their fourth consecutive tournament game, they are a regional champion. Sweet 16’s get a banner, a Final Four berth is a monumental accomplishment. A justifiable party by Red Raider nation will break out, so go celebrate it. Go crazy! With a Final Four trip secured, it brings us to the second March Madness 101 intermission. At this point in the tournament, there isn’t much left to dive into. Turn on any sports channel during the week, and you will find any and all information your heart could desire about the Final Four. But this class is nearing the end. It means you, the casual fan, have seen the Red Raiders win four straight games. It will require two more victories to actually be crowned a national champion.

Texas Tech is going to have to play their best games of the season to be the last team left standing. One of the items about March Madness that adds to the significance of each victory; is seeing the other team realizing their season ends with a loss. This isn’t to take shots at any one team. It is simply the reality of this tournament. It is the fairest opportunity for any team to win a national championship.

Gut-Wrenching Heartbreak

There is nothing flukey about winning six consecutive games against the best teams in the country. 67 teams start a game without any thought of their season concluding. And yet, after 40 minutes of gameplay, all of those teams will finish their season with heartbreak. Surviving and advancing is ultimately any team is looking to do. If you really wanna impress those you are watching with, be the first one to say “It’s all about Survive and Advance Baby!” after a hard-fought Red Raider win.

The reality is Texas Tech likely won’t win a national championship this year. There are real concerns about offensive consistency. And even if the defense is playing great, it only takes one player on one team to shoot the lights out to knock out the Red Raiders. But just like any great achievement, it’s all about enjoying the journey more than the ending destination.

Thank You For Attending This March Madness 101 Class

Now spread the word to your friends! Guns Up Nations hopes you will enjoy the tournament and do so being a little more knowledgeable about what everyone at work is talking about.

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Dolores Mosser
Dolores Mosser
6 months ago

This is the season of SYNERGY. If you do not know what that is, look it up. Teamwork, coaching, timing, anticipation, leadership, denial, sacrifice, reward…all are found in the game of basketball. When things outside of the game cause a ripple in the force, the magic is disturbed. Concentrate on the Game! That is all!!!

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