The Butler Bulldogs were on the bubble for the past few weeks but now they are in the tournament as a nine seed. Butler, coming in as a nine seed, will face the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Raleigh, North Carolina on Thursday. It sure looks like it will be a high scoring game, as both teams have pretty good scorers on both teams. The winner of this game will likely face #1 seed Virginia in the Round of 32. But for now we are focused on this game. To get more on the Red Raiders, we talked to our fantastic friends at Viva The Matadors and asked them a few questions.
How has Tubby Smith changed the program around at Texas Tech?
Hunter Cooke: I could talk all day about what Tubby Smith has done for this program. I could cite several strategical and personnel changes, but in my opinion the biggest change he’s brought to Texas Tech is the attitude. This no longer feels like a team destined for one big upset a year, this feels like a team that could compete for conference championships down the line. It’s difficult to explain to an outside perspective, but making March Madness was a huge deal for us.
After starting conference play 3-7, Texas Tech has rebounded very well. What went right for the Red Raiders?
HC: Texas Tech found a way to gel without Norense Odiase in the lineup. Odiase was a big part of our preseason success, and when he got hurt, things started going bad. The team started rallying around Matt Temple (did you know he was in a frat? And played Rec League basketball for Delta Tau Delta until he was picked up by Tubby?), and we just went from there. The senior leadership of Toddrick Gotcher and the shooting of Aaron Ross were very helpful too.
Who’s a player on Texas Tech that the Butler defense should watch out for?
HC: Zach Smith. He doesn’t blow you out of the water statistically, but nearly every single big game he has an earth-shattering momentum-changing dunk. His alley-oop finishers are part of the reason why it’s so difficult to play at the USA, he just gets the people going.
How much do you think the loss to TCU in the Big 12 tourney will affect the Red Raiders?
HC: I’m hoping zero, but I’m expecting them to try and overcorrect their mistakes. This is still a very young team with literally zero tournament experience, and the TCU loss stung. Inserting Norense Odiase back into the lineup seemed to mess with the flow the Red Raiders had going for them with Matt Temple.
X-Factor and prediction?
HC: I’d say our X-Factor is Justin Gray. We know what we’ll see from many of the "big names" of Texas Tech, I.E. Toddrick Gotcher, Zach Smith, and Aaron Ross, but if Justin Gray has an impact I say we win it.
I’m an eternal pessimist when it comes to Texas Tech Athletics, and I don’t like how we match up with Butler, specifically from 3-point range, so I’m gonna say Butler takes it 68-62.