Deep, experienced Texas Tech squad again has the look of an NCAA Tournament contender


The Big 12 has a legitimate claim as the best conference in America this year, with the nation’s top two teams in the next poll (Baylor, Kansas) and six other NCAA Tournament contenders.

Texas Tech, under new head coach and former Little Rock boss Chris Beard, has emerged as a legit team to watch. The Red Raiders picked off No. 7 West Virginia, 77-76, in overtime in Lubbock last week and represented themselves well Saturday night in Lawrence before falling to Kansas, 85-68. (They also nearly took down Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum two weeks ago before fading down the stretch, 63-56).

Anthony Livingston, a transfer from Arkansas State, is one of the biggest reasons why this team won’t be an easy out for anyone. The 6-8 senior from Washington, D.C. averages 12.9 points and 4.8 boards per game, and he knocked down the game-winning three at the buzzer to stun the Mountaineers last week:

He looks like Common and plays like Uncle Drew (he’s got that old-man-in-the-park game) but Livingston has proven he’s also got the confidence to take and make the difference-making shots for Tech.

The Raiders (12-3) admittedly ran through a weak non-conference schedule and will need to win their share of Big 12 games to reach the NCAA’s for a second straight season. But the way they’ve looked even in road losses to Iowa State and Kansas suggests this team has what it takes to do so.

We think Beard, who led Little Rock to a first-round upset over Purdue last season, will be coaching an experienced group capable of winning an NCAA game again this spring.

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