Preview and Game Thread: NCAA Tournament Elite 8 | Texas Tech vs. Villanova

The Red Raiders face off against the Wildcats.

Game Info

Date: Sunday, March 25th
Time: 1:20 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (27-9, 11-7)
Bad Guys: Villanova Wildcats (33-4, 14-4)
Location: TD Garden | Boston, Massachusetts
TV/Stream: CBS
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM


POINT GUARD Keenan Evans (6-3/190) 17.7 / 3.2*
SHOOTING GUARD Jarrett Culver (6-5/190) 11.2 / 4.9
SMALL FORWARD Zhaire Smith (6-5/195) 11.4 / 4.9
POWER FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 5.1 / 3.7
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/245) 3.8 / 4.5
SIXTH MAN Zach Smith (6-8/220) 6.4 / 3.8
SEVENTH MAN Niem Stevenson (6-6/205) 7.5 / 3.0
EIGHTH MAN Brandone Francis (6-5/205) 5.1 / 2.0
NINTH MAN Davide Moretti (6-3/165) 3.4 / 1.2*
TENTH MAN Tommy Hamilton IV (6-11/250) 5.5 / 3.0
ELEVENTH MAN Josh Webster (6-4/175) 0.3 / 0.8*
TWELTH MAN Malik Ondigo (6-10/210) 1.2 / 0.8
POINT GUARD Jalen Brunson (6-3/190) 19.3 / 4.6*
SHOOTING GUARD Phil Booth (6-3/190) 10.5 / 3.2
SMALL FORWARD Mikal Bridges (6-6/210) 18.0 / 5.4
POWER FORWARD Eric Paschall (6-9/255) 10.3 / 5.0
CENTER Omari Spellman (6-9/245) 10.8 / 7.9
SIXTH MAN Donte Divincenzo (6-5/205) 12.9 / 4.6
SEVENTH MAN Dhamir Crosby-Roundtree (6-9/220) 3.2 / 2.4
EIGHTH MAN Collin Gillespie (6-3/190) 4.4 / 1.2

* Assists.

Starting 5

1. KenPom. KenPom has Virginia as the 1st ranked team, 1st in AdjO and 14th in AdjO, while Texas Tech has actually moved up a couple of spots, 46th in AdjO and 4th in AdjD.

2. Stats. Via RealGM, Villanova is a much better shooting team, 60% eFG% compared to 53% to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are a better offensive rebounding team, 32% to 28% for Villanova, while Texas Tech also holds an edge in free throw rate, 28% compared to 23% for Villanova. Texas Tech turns the ball over slightly more, 16% to 13%.

3. Scouting. Brunson is an elite offensive player, but Bridges, CiVincenzo, Paschall and Spellman are all very good too. In fact, Spellman may be the best offensive player and he’s not even close to the leading scorers, those thing Brunson and Bridges who are at the top. I mentioned this in a text to a friend, but the key here for Texas Tech is the health of Zach Smith, who literally changes the defensive dynamics of the team and to a certain extent changes the offense as well. After Villanova’s game, they mentioned that Spellman is a stretch-five, a center that can step ou tand hit the three-point shot, which he can and does at a 44% rate. I think you’d maybe see someone like Gray trying to cover Spellman, and he may still do so, but with Smith covering Spellman, the mismatches, either on the perimeter or inside is much, much less. You’ll still see Zhaire guard guys that he probably shouldn’t, but that’s the way that this team has operated for the entire year. Offensively, Texas Tech will need to have their best offensive game of the year to beat Villanova.

4. Reading Material.

  • A-J Media’s Don Williams – No. 14 Red Raiders prepared for No. 2 Villanova’s balanced scoring attack:

    It starts with playing solid defense, playing aggressive on the offensive end and keeping turnovers to a minimum. All those facets will have to be raised exponentially when the Red Raiders face off against top-seeded Villanova at 1:20 p.m. Sunday in the East Region final.

    The winner advances to the Final Four in San Antonio.

    “I told the guys, when you continue to advance in the Tournament, you’re just going to continue to play the best teams in the country, and that’s certainly our opinion of Villanova,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Just love the way they play. A lot of things we do defensively, we’ve taken from Villanova, in terms of switching and playing versatile players.

  • USA Today’s Nancy Armour – NCAA tournament: Chris Beard has made the most of his shot at Texas Tech:

    In less time than it takes most new coaches to lay the foundation for their programs or articulate their plan, Beard has managed to transform the Red Raiders into a national title contender. Just two years after returning to the school where he was a longtime assistant to Bob Knight, Beard has Texas Tech in the Elite Eight for the first time in history.

    The Red Raiders aren’t winning because Beard inherited a group of blue chippers or because he’s playing a system he inherited from predecessor Tubby Smith. And Texas Tech’s success is most definitely not a fluke.

    From his first day on campus, when he asked for better food because he didn’t think what the players were eating was up to Big 12 standards, Beard has been in “win now” mode.

  • NBCSports’ Rob Dauster – Keenan Evans perseveres through toe injury as Texas Tech looks to get through East Region:

    And Beard made sure they would have the chance to do so. Almost immediately after setting foot in Lubbock, the new Tech staff got to work trying to develop relationships with his new players and their families. Beard had a one-on-one meeting with every single member of the Texas Tech roster, which is not uncommon. He then took a flight to meet with the family of every member of his team. To sit down in front of them, look them in the eye and get to know them personally, as more than just the people that his players hear from when they go over their data plan or when those on-campus parking tickets start to add up.

    “When I called them to let them know that Coach Beard said he was going to fly out to see [them], they were kind of shook,” Keenan said. “‘Wow, he’s really going to fly to everybody’s family around the country?’ They were really in shock and that stood out to them as well.”

    “Not a lot of coaches do that. Fly to each person’s family, sit down and meet them, introduce himself. That played a big part in [my decision to stay] as well.”

  • SI’s Dan Greene – With Chris Beard at the Helm, There’s Never a Dull Moment for Texas Tech:

    The plan was already in place for what was likely the biggest game Chris Beard had ever coached—last Saturday’s second-round NCAA tournament matchup with Florida, with a Sweet 16 berth on the line—but as his Texas Tech team readied to leave its hotel for the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, inspiration struck for a quick tweak. While the Red Raiders idled on their bus, Beard got word that Sean Sutton, an advisor on his staff, was sprinting through the lobby, frantically trying to make the departure. The coach tabbed an underling to film Sutton’s mad dash, and a few hours later, immediately before his team headed out for pre-game warmups, Beard directed the players’ attention to a locker room TV. There they saw a 30-second clip from Forrest Gump of the title character’s cross-country run, followed by video of Sutton’s desperate scamper. Let’s run their asses off out there, Beard told his team, then sent the Red Raiders to the floor to take down the Gators.

    “It was just beautiful,” Texas Tech special assistant Larry Brown said Thursday, tickled by the memory. “The players just relaxed and laughed and went out ready.”

  •’s Joe Juliano – Villanova thinking three-point shooting in Elite Eight duel with Texas Tech:

    The Cats (33-4), seeded No. 1 in the East Region, have 432 threes on the season, 10 short of the record of 442 set by Virginia Military Institute in 2005-06. They have 44 threes in the tournament, a record for three games. For the season, their average output of 11.7 per game is third in Division I, and their 40.5 percent shooting is 10th.

    “I think it starts with the confidence we have in each other, the confidence Coach has in us,” junior guard Jalen Brunson said Saturday, after the Wildcats completed a short practice at TD Garden. “We put a lot of time and hard work in the summer and the fall, even during the winter.”

    Wright said the emphasis on the three-point shot has been “gradual over time.”

    “It’s recruiting players that are good shooters when we get them and then working on it,” he said. “We work on it daily. Even this deep into the season, we’ll do what we call technique-shooting workouts. So, it’s gradually progressed where it’s become a big part of recruiting, a big part of our scheme, and a big part of our development program.”

  • Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow – Texas Tech revels in the sound of success:

    The bass in any of Metro Boomin’s beats has a sort of sinisterly arrhythmic pulse that leaks out of speakers and drives through walls even at its lowest volume.

    The sounds coming out of Texas Tech’s locker room Saturday were cranked loud enough to hear through the hallways at TD Garden.

    Between the relentless thump of Metro’s “Pull Up N Wreck” and the triplet flow of Detroit rapper Big Sean, Texas Tech had the bowels of the Garden sounding like a hip-hop Dunkirk.

    Villanova, the Red Raiders’ Elite Eight opponent on Sunday, could hear the audible assault from its locker room at the other end of the hall.

    But for Texas Tech, the music booming from its locker room is as much a part of its DNA as the top-to-bottom balance that made it one of the toughest teams in the Big 12.

    “Just our culture,” said senior guard Keenan Evans. “It helps us get ready to play. It brings energy. It brings life.”

5. Official Site. The official site with the official preview and head coach Chris Beard talked about playing Villanova:

“I told the guys, when you continue to advance in the Tournament, you’re just going to continue to play the best teams in the country,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “That’s certainly our opinion of Villanova. Just being a basketball guy, they’re a team I’m familiar with because I try to watch them whenever they’re on TV at night. Just love the way they play. A lot of things we do defensively, we’ve taken from Villanova, in terms of switching and playing versatile players. We have nothing but respect for their program, their talent level, and their coach. In our eyes, we’re going to have to play our best 40 minutes of the season to advance, and that’s our objective.”


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