You know what, Tech has been rolling since we’ve been doing these conversations, so we’re just going to keep on doing them. Myself and DanSwany recap the past weekend, the Michigan State match-up, and our excited about heading to Minneapolis. Here we go:
Michael LaBarre: As the great Jack Buck once said, “I don’t believe what I just saw”. I thought we were going to defeat Michigan after thinking about it, but no way did I think we would upset Gonzaga. They were hitting a ton of difficult shots and weren’t too shabby defensively either. They looked like a team that was going to win the championship this whole tournament more than anyone. Yet, we matched them in their style of play in the first three quarters of the game, and defeated them in our style the last 10 minutes. How the heck did we pull this off?!
Swany: It was amazing, we got into more of an uptempo pace than we would have liked. But, our offense pulled through when we needed to match buckets with the Zags. Everything was clicking, and that’s what it’s going to take from here on out against the best of the best. This win was so great for every Red Raider and Texas Tech University. I get the feeling that after the loss last year in the Elite Eight we were hungry for more. Were going to the Final Four and I could not be more proud of everything we’ve accomplished. Do you feel we are still going to be viewed as an underdog after making it to the big stage?
LaBarre: I think for a little bit because it’s Texas Tech. People around the country aren’t used to the team from Lubbock being contenders. Especially since Tech is going to have to reload again next year, I think the nation is still going to view us as underdogs. But that’s okay. We’re not far off from being put in the same category as Virginia or Purdue or some of these other programs that people seem to talk about every year despite not winning anything yet. And the people that matter, the recruits and coaches, have taken notice. If we can make another deep run next year, we’ll be considered one of the top tier programs, much like Tech baseball. Speaking of which, what can the Final Four (and good performance) do for this program?
Swany: Nothing but upside for our Texas Tech basketball program. As you mentioned, recruits will take notice of the Red Raiders as will all the true college basketball junkies out there. The Final Four performances will be excellent exposure, and make us aware and crave the attention for many seasons to come. It should even spill over to other Tech athletic programs wanting to experience success. It can be accomplished. Right now we are in the honeymoon stages of jubilation from making it to the Final Four. But, make no mistake that Chris Beard and our players will start preparing for our next match-up just like every other game of the tourney. How do you feel about our chances with Michigan State?
LaBarre: Of course, everyone knows I’m a pessimist. Up until a day before the game, I had Michigan winning, and I thought Gonzaga would narrowly defeat us. I’m definitely nervous. Michigan State is much like Gonzaga; they’re experienced, can score from anywhere, and are tough as nails on the board. They also have one of the best defenses in the country, much like Michigan. Luckily, what we do have over them is size and the fact that they don’t have any pro prospects. We’re going to need everyone on their best game again. Don’t think we can afford another low efficient game from Culver. Are you feeling confident?
Swany: With the way we are playing right now, this is some of the best (if not the best) basketball I have ever seen a Texas Tech team play. I’m very confident that we have a very good shot at winning the whole damn thing. MSU is a great team, but we can go toe to toe with anybody right now and hold our own. I’m getting excited about the upcoming game, and can’t wait to get on the plane to Minneapolis. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime for us Red Raiders. Can’t wait to watch the game with you. How pumped up are you for this adventure that we are about to take a journey on getting to join in the Final Four festivities firsthand?
LaBarre: Oh man. I wanted this so badly last year. With it being in San Antonio, I wouldn’t need a plane ticket and it was right there. I don’t like taking these things for granted, especially since Tech doesn’t have a history doing this (yet). So I knew I had to jump on board. I envision it as one big party where I can just talk with other college basketball nerds about college basketball. I can’t wait to see what the pregame festivities are like and what the atmosphere is like inside the stadium. The closest I’ve been to anything like this was the Super Regional we hosted, so I’m sure this will blow it out of the water. Also excited to see what’s around Minneapolis, mostly just the Mall of America though. From someone who’s been to a Final Four, what can us newbies going for the first time expect?
Swany: This is the big show, it’ll be my third Final Four to attend… and just as you said, it is filled with every college basketball aficionado that you can imagine. The sports celebrities also like to join in on the event. So, get ready to see some iconic figures in athletics on-hand. I’ve always gone as a spectator that loves the game. But, now my team is in it and this will be the real deal. Expect a lot of enthusiastic basketball fans before tip to embrace each other before tipoff. But, as soon as the games start it will be a ride of emotions you’ll never forget. You won’t be disappointed. Wreck ’em Tech!!!