8. Texas Tech (19-12, 9-9/Big 12)– Texas Tech was shockingly over-seeded at No. 8, as the Red Raiders came in at 19-12 and lost their first-round Big 12 tournament game to a lousy TCU squad. As late as January 31, the Red Raiders weren’t even on the NCAA Tournament radar, after losing six of their first eight conference games and falling to Arkansas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
But Tubby Smith rallied the troops, and embarked on an improbable February stretch in which Tech beat Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma in three straight games, which is basically what put this team in the field. The Raiders also beat conference champions Hawaii, South Dakota State and Arkansas-Little Rock in the nonconference, so that helps their cause as well. We would have liked to have seen Texas Tech get a 10 or 11-seed, but it is what it is. The committee loves power conference teams in this superconference era.
This is one of the more balanced teams in the nation, as seven players average 8-plus points per game. Leading scorer Toddrick Gotcher checks in at 11.1 per.
69.8 points allowed (127th)
72.4 points per game (195th)
9. Butler (21-10, 10-8/Big East)– The Bulldogs are back in the NCAA Tournament field for the eighth time in nine years after navigating a challenging Big East schedule. This group has some familiar names and faces, including human Swiss Army Knife Roosevelt Jones, who averages 14 points, 6.6 boards and 4.7 assists per game, and plays way bigger than his 6-4 listing would suggest.
6-6 senior guard Kellen Dunham is a prodigious scorer (16.3 ppg), and he can stroke it from deep. Sophomore forward Kelan Martin (16.1 ppg) can go off at any time, and has become one of the most underrated players in the country. 6-7 forward Andrew Chrabascz is another familiar face, and he throws in 10 ppg.
Unlike previous Butler iterations, this group wins games with its offense, rather than its defense.
PREDICTION: Butler shoots the lights out, runs up and down the floor and outpaces Texas Tech. The Bulldogs win this one by double digits, then fall in a close, well-played game against top-seeded Virginia.
Other tournament games:
Which teams can beat No. 1 North Carolina?
8. USC vs. 9. Providence
5. Indiana vs. 12. Chattanooga
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Stony Brook
6. Notre Dame vs. 11. Michigan/Tulsa
3. West Virginia vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin
7. Wisconsin vs. 10. Pittsburgh
2. Xavier vs. 15 Weber State
Who can beat No. 1 Kansas?
8. Colorado vs. 9. UConn
5. Maryland vs. 12. South Dakota State
4. California vs. 13 Hawaii
6. Arizona vs. 11. Wichita State or Vanderbilt
3. Miami (FL) vs. 14. Buffalo
7. Iowa vs. 10. Temple
2. Villanova vs. 15. UNC Asheville
How far will No. 1 Virginia advance?
8. Texas Tech vs. 9. Butler
5. Purdue vs. 12. Arkansas-Little Rock
4. Iowa State vs. 13. Iona
6. Seton Hall vs. 11. Gonzaga
3. Utah vs. 14. Fresno State
7. Dayton vs. 10. Syracuse
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Middle Tennessee State
Is No. 1 Oregon really that good?
8. St. Joseph’s vs. 9. Cincinnati
5. Baylor vs. 12. Yale
4. Duke vs. 13. UNC-Wilmington
6. Texas vs. 11. Northern Iowa
3. Texas A&M vs. 14. Green Bay
7. Oregon State vs. 10. VCU
2. Oklahoma vs 15. Cal St. Bakersfield