LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech is headed to Tulsa as the No. 3 seed in the West Region where the Red Raiders will play Northern Kentucky at 12:30 p.m. on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The No. 7-ranked Red Raiders (26-6) earned their first Big 12 Conference regular-season championship after going 14-4 in conference play and will be making their 17th NCAA tournament appearance in program history. The Norse (26-8) are the Horizon League Tournament champion and regular-season co-champion. Tech, which advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight last season, made its tournament debut in 1954 and are back in consecutive seasons for the fourth time. Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second straight season and leads the Red Raiders to the national tournament having won 11 of 13 games. Beard is 71-30 leading the program over the past three years and will be making his third NCAA tournament appearance after also leading Little Rock to the tournament in 2016.
The Texas Tech-Northern Kentucky winner will advance to the second round on Sunday. In the other matchup this weekend in Tulsa, No. 6 seed Buffalo (31-3) will play the winner of the Arizona State (22-10) and St. John's (21-12) matchup that will be played on Wednesday. The first-round game for the Red Raiders will be broadcasted on TNT.
Texas Tech enters the national tournament second in the country by limiting opponents to 36.8 percent shooting through 32 games and are fourth by holding teams to 59.3 points per game. The Red Raiders have held 12 opponents under 55 points this season, while on offense the team is scoring 73.1 points per game and is shooting 47.2 percent. Jarrett Culver was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and leads the Red Raiders with 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in his sophomore season. Davide Moretti leads the nation at 93.3 percent from the free-throw line and is shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 47.8 percent on 3-pointers where he has made at least one 3-pointer in 21 straight games. Tech is shooting 36.8 percent on 3-pointers, matching the number they are limiting teams to from the field and are holding the opposition to only 30.1 percent on 3-pointers which ranks 17th nationally.
Led by Tariq Owens who has established a new program single-season record with 78 blocked shots, the Red Raiders rank 15th in with 4.9 blocks per game and are 26th with 15.66 turnovers forced per game with Matt Mooney averaging 1.72 per game which is second out of the Big 12. Owens has at least one blocked shot in every game this season, while Mooney is averaging 10.9 points per game and leads the team with 55 steals. As graduate transfers, Mooney and Owens will be making their NCAA tournament debuts in their senior seasons while Culver, Moretti, Brandone Francis, Malik Ondigo, Avery Benson and Parker Hicks are back for the second straight season. Texas Tech's Norense Odiase and Andrew Sorrells will be making their third NCAA appearance after also being a part of the 2016 team that earned a berth for the first time since 2007. Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew and Josh Mballa are in their first season with the program and will also be making their first appearances in the tournament.