SFA vs Texas Tech Preview and Prediction
SFA vs Texas Tech Preview
A battle of two Texas teams will tip-off on Thursday in Dallas, Texas as the 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks take on the heavily favored 3rd-seed Texas Tech Red Raiders.
SFA is no stranger to the Big Dance
The Lumberjacks have been in the tournament three of the past four seasons. Two of those appearances have resulted in upset-wins. They shocked West Virginia in 2016 in what was a No. 14 vs. No. 3 matchup, the same for this game against the Red Raiders. The other upset came in 2014 against VCU, which was a no. 12 vs. no. 5 matchup. The Lumberjacks are not going to make anything easy for opponents regardless of their seeding. While ESPN’s BPI only gives them a 10.3 percent chance of winning the game, anything is possible in March.
High tempo attack
The Lumberjacks love to force the tempo, running up-and-down the court, they excel in transition. SFA averages 81.8 points per game, which is tied for 35th in the country. They also feed off getting to the free throw line. The team finished 16th in the country for free throw attempts.
The Lumberjacks like to steal
If Stephen F. Austin wants to pull the upset, they will need to continue their aggression on the defensive end of the floor. SFA leads the nation with 20.25 takeaways per game. PER GAME. In contrast, they aren’t very good at keeping the rock themselves, averaging 16 turnovers per game. But if they can keep their turnover number down and continue their defensive pace, this could be a tight game throughout.
Can Texas Tech bounce back?
It was a rough end of the regular season for the Red Raiders, losing four straight before making a decent run in the Big 12 Tournament, finally losing to West Virginia by three. But the makeup is there to make some noise, led by Keenan Evans and his 17.6 points per game, and helped by 11-point-per-game scorers Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith.
Keenan Evans status
The Red Raiders best player is senior guard Keenan Evans–he missed the Big 12 tournament due to a foot injury, but he is expected to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders need his scoring, leadership and defense if they want a lengthy Tournament run.
The Red Raiders experience
I have been a huge believer in Texas Tech all season, having them in my way too early Final Four on the My Fantasy Podcast months ago. There is a reason for it: seniors.
The Red Raiders start five seniors, which in the NCAA Tournament is a huge weapon to have. They also have some youth as two freshman (Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith) make up two of the Red Raiders top three scorers.
LINE: -11.5 Texas Tech
The line being double-digits was surprising because this SFA team plays more like a 10-seed than the 14-seed they were given. Keenan Evans should be healthy for the Red Raiders but will there be any rust there?
I expect Texas Tech to win the game outright, however if I’m placing a wager I’m taking Stephen F. Austin plus the points.
Texas Tech 82 SFA 78