Texas Tech took down No. 1 Gonzaga in the Elite Eight on Saturday to win the NCAA tournament’s West Regional and become the first team to book a trip to the Final Four in Minneapolis next week.
Here’s a look at three reasons the Red Raiders (30-6) can cut down the nets in the national title game on April 8:
1. Smothering defense. It’s more than just the stat sheet, which has Texas Tech leading the country in defensive efficiency (per KenPom) and field goal percentage defense (opponents only shoot 36.7%). The Red Raiders have tremendous length and apply pressure that can make the most dynamic offenses become discombobulated. In its last three games, Texas Tech shut down a high-octane Buffalo offense, limited Michigan to a tournament-record low of 16 first-half points and forced Gonzaga’s high-scoring offense into an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers and 27% three-point shooting.
Texas Tech’s defense has a drastic effect on a game’s tempo and creates contagious energy.
2. Jarrett Culver. The Big 12 player of the year erupted for 29 points in Texas Tech’s first-round win over Northern Kentucky . The offense runs through the 6-5 guard, who also tallied 22 points vs. Michigan and 19 more against Gonzaga. While Texas Tech creates plenty of offense off its defensive pressure, Culver is an NBA talent who can get the team a bucket in the halfcourt offense when needed.
3. An underrated backcourt. Culver gets a lot of credit for being this team’s offensive juggernaut, but Texas Tech has a backcourt that’s made for March. Sharpshooting sophomore Davide Moretti drained two big three-pointers in the last four minutes to help the Red Raiders pull in front of Gonzaga and veteran point guard Matt Mooney, a grad transfer from South Dakota, had 17 points and five assists. When you’ve got a marksmen like Moretti and a 23-year-old with four years of college basketball experience like Mooney, Culver will has a supporting cast that can make big shots in crunch time.