NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Utah State
March Madness is underway!
Breaking down the biggest matchup of the season
THE GAME: Utah State Vs. Texas Tech inside Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana
TIP TIME: 1:45 p.m. ET
TV: TNT W/Announcers: Carter Blackburn (PBP), Debbie Antonelli (Analyst), Evan Washburn (Sidelines)
STREAM: FuboTV – Get a seven-day free trial
ODDS via BetMGM: Texas Tech -3
Finally, we’re here into the NCAA Tournament, it’s been a long two years since the best sporting event in the world took place, and now we’re back with a big-time matchup that could be a thriller.
Texas Tech enters the Dance with a 17-10 record, but seven of those losses came by single-digit points. If a few things went Tech’s way, they could be in a much better spot.
Utah State got into the tournament as “last-four bye” meaning an 11 seed that didn’t get into the first four. Well deserved for the Aggies getting into the Big Dance.
Based on both teams priding themselves on the defensive end, expect a low-scoring contest that could be first team to 65 points.
Tech is lead by experienced guard Mac McClung, their leading scorer averages 15.7 PPG on the season, but is the epitome of “Boom-or-bust”. For instance, McClung’s scored in single-digits seven times this season, while scoring 20+ in 10 games. It’s pretty clear if McClung is rolling, anything can happen for the Red Raiders. I’m curious to see how Rollie Worster contains McClung during this one, given the size and defensive ability of the young guard for Craig Smith.
The key is can Marcus Santos-Silva contain Neemias Queta? If you let the first team All-MW player get post-positioning, you’re asking for trouble considering the five-inch height differential. Santos-Silva plays far bigger than his 6’7 height would indicate but uses his strength to stay in position on defense and compete for rebounds.
Future NBA player Terrence ‘T.J.’ Shannon will be an interesting piece against Utah State in this contest. A freak-athlete, often compared to former Kansas Jayhawk Kelly Oubre Jr, looks to make a vast impact in the NCAA Tournament.
Shannon’s tremendous at getting to the rim using his speed and verticality, let’s see how Marco Anthony plays on him here, a matchup to key-in on.
A noticeable disparity in the offensive efficiency metric on KenPom, TTU comes in at a solid 33rd, while USU clocks in at 114th in the country.
For the Aggies to get through to the next round, contributors like Brock Miller, Steven Ashworth and Alphonso Anderson adding scoring from the perimeter is going to make a difference here, TTU applies ball-pressure trying to force tough shots. Don’t let them get comfortable on the defensive end.
Ashworth has seldom played since Rollie Worster returned, with both occupying the point guard spot, but the Aggies finding a way to get Ashworth on the floor with his shooting prowess could be a significant factor. On the season, the 6’1 guard is shooting nearly 37% from deep, and hit some big three’s on the season.
In seven of the past eight games Utah State’s star Neemias Queta’s posted double-doubles. It’s been incredible to witness Queta dazzle into a legitimate star in College Basketball. If the Aggies can snag a victory here, there’s no question that Queta playing a pivotal role is imperative.
By using sports-reference, Queta leads the country in Defensive win shares (2.8), defensive box-plus-,minus (6.6) and is second in total blocks, only trailing St Peter’s forward KC Ndefo by one block, 91 compared to 90. Nine of those 90 blocks came against Colorado State in the Mountain West semi-finals.
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) March 17, 2021
KEYS TO THE GAME:
For Craig Smith’s crew, hitting three’s is a must these days in Basketball. Despite only shooting them 32% of the time, they’re in the middle of the pack for the season at 33.7%, but struggled from outside during the conference tournament. If USU shoots 35% from deep, taking them down is a tough task.
For Tech, Mac McClung only scored 14 points in the final two games of the year, look for Chris Beard to try finding a way to isolate McClung early, get to the foul-line and see the ball go through the basket. When McClung’s scoring hitting, he’s a killer and can drop 25+ on any given night.
PREDICTION: Utah State 70, Texas Tech 67
The winner moves on to face the winner of No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 14 Colgate