Red Raiders Return to National Polls; No. 3 in NET

Red Raider Nation

Sometimes you just have to go out and prove yourself. After three weeks and six wins, Texas Tech is back in the national polls at No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 19 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll following victories over Southern Cal, Nebraska and Northern Colorado last week.

The Red Raiders (6-0) make their first appearance of the season in the polls in the fourth week just like they did for the first time last year. Texas Tech entered the AP Poll and USA TODAY Coaches Poll in the fourth week of the 2017-18 season at No. 22 and would rise to No. 6 in the 16th week of the season before finishing at No. 14 in the final AP Poll of last season. TTU was in 14 AP polls during the year but would enter this season unranked through three weeks. The Red Raiders finished last season at No. 6 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll and were in its Top-10 rankings seven times during the season. The No. 6 ranking to finish the season matched a program-best set on Feb. 12, 2018 in the USA TODAY Coaches poll and on Feb. 19, 2018 in the AP Top 25 Poll.  

Along with the poll, Texas Tech has played itself to No. 3 in the NCAA NET Ranking. The new evaluation tool had the Red Raiders at No. 13 last week before the neutral-court wins over the Trojans and Cornhuskers for the Hall of Fame Classic Championship in Kansas City and the 31-point home win over the previously unbeaten Bears on Saturday. The Red Raiders have won all six of their games by double-digits and own a 27.5 scoring margin advantage with a defense that ranks third nationally by limiting opponents to only 51.0 points per game. The team also ranks fourth nationally by limiting opponents to 33.6 percent shooting and is fifth with its scoring margin. Jarrett Culver leads the team with 18.8 points and 4.3 assists per game after dropping 26 points against Nebraska to match a career-high and then going for 20 points and six assists in the win over UNC on Saturday. Matt Mooney and Davide Moretti are both averaging 11.0 points per game and over three assists, while Norense Odiase leads the team with 6.2 rebounds per game and Tariq Owens is tied for the Big 12 lead with 15 blocked shots.

The NCAA developed NET to replace the RPI as the primary sorting tool for evaluating teams during the Division I men’s basketball season. Ohio State currently tops the NET followed by Virginia and the Red Raiders. The new ranking system was approved in late July after months of consultation with the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services.

The NCAA Evaluation Tool, which will be known as the NET, relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. To make sense of team performance data, late-season games (including from the NCAA tournament) were used as test sets to develop a ranking model leveraging machine learning techniques. The model, which used team performance data to predict the outcome of games in test sets, was optimized until it was as accurate as possible. The resulting model is the one that will be used as the NET going forward.

Gonzaga (6-0) is the new No. 1-ranked team in the polls, followed by Kansas (5-0), Duke (5-1) and Virginia (6-0). The AP poll has Nevada at No. 5, while the USA TODAY poll has Michigan one spot ahead of Nevada. The Big 12 is represented by Kansas, No. 12 Kansas State and Texas at 17th. The Red Raiders are scheduled to play No. 3 Duke on Thursday, Dec. 20 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Texas Tech will return to action at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on Saturday against Memphis in Miami. The Tigers (3-3) own a 6-0 all-time advantage over the Red Raiders in the series that hasn’t been played since 1985. The neutral-court game is the second of four games at the Air Force Reserve Hoophall Miami Invitational at the AmericanAirlines Arena.


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