Two of the best teams in the Big 12 will square off on Monday night when the Texas Tech Red Raiders host the TCU Horned Frogs. Both teams looked very impressive in non-conference action, but the rigors of Big 12 play have taken their toll on both of these teams. TCU is just 3-3 in conference play, while Texas Tech is 4-3. Currently, both teams are just one game behind Kansas and Kansas State in the loss column, but the loser will find itself in a tough spot going forward with four losses.
Fortunately for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders have no injuries to report. They are hoping to keep it that way in their run to make it into March Madness.
TCU does have an injury and a transfer to note. Forward Yuat Alok made the decision to transfer out of Fort Worth a little over two weeks ago, while guard Jaylen Fisher suffered a season-ending knee injury. Not having Alok hurts the frontcourt depth, but Fisher is the bigger loss as he was one of the team’s top playmakers in the backcourt.
Oddsmakers have installed Texas Tech as a 4.5-point home favorite ahead of tonight’s game. That line may feel a bit short since the Red Raiders are at home and ranked, but Jamie Dixon is considered one of the best coaches in the country and has his Horned Frogs playing well in spite of the loss of Alok and Fisher. The over/under is 130.
What’s at Stake?
The winner of this game stays within striking distance for at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship, while the loser falls at least two games behind and needs a lot of help going forward.
Dixon has been angling to get his team ranked all season, but they have yet to beat a ranked opponent. They lost at home to Lipscomb in non-conference play and their two best wins have come against Texas and Florida. TCU couldn’t get past either of the Kansas teams or Oklahoma, so the program is in need of a quality win.
Texas Tech’s lone loss in non-conference play came against Duke, and the Red Raiders did a great job of holding the Blue Devils down. They allowed just 69 points, and defense was key in wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma too. However, they have lost three in a row in conference play heading into tonight’s tilt.
TCU and Texas Tech each took part in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday and did their part to ensure the Big 12 won the competition for the first time in three years. Each team played at home, so there is no travel fatigue to worry about, only the typical fatigue of having just one day off between games.
It’s not Virginia or Michigan that has the best defense in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, but rather Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are allowing just 56.4 PPG and their opponent’s effective field goal percentage is just 40.9 percent. They are forcing turnovers on over 21 percent of opponent possessions, and they are very active defending the perimeter. They allow just nine assists per game, and that starts with fantastic guard play.
TCU is led by its guards. Alex Robinson is the team’s main distributor, and he is averaging 7.7 APG, one of the best totals in the nation. However, he has been responsible for a lot of turnovers too, and that can’t happen against Texas Tech. He is turning the ball over nearly four times per game, and his turnover numbers have increased since entering conference play.
The Horned Frogs have a good defense too, so the under is worth consideration. They are ranked No. 18 in Pomeroy’s numbers, and neither team plays at a particularly fast tempo.
My favorite play is laying the points with Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs are a little undervalued on the whole, but it’s not easy to get up for a game in Lubbock. The campus is in the middle of nowhere, and Texas Tech has a real home court advantage there.