The Big 12 was a grueling conference this season, and coming in seventh place out of the 10 teams launched Texas Tech into the NCAA Tournament as an eight seed. The Red Raiders will open their Big Dance with Butler, which finished fourth in the Big East this season. A huge February run helped Texas Tech make the field. From February 10 to 23, Tech picked up wins over Iowa State, Baylor, and Oklahoma. A first round Big 12 Tournament loss to TCU wasn't enough to undo the good that those big wins did for Tech's tournament resume. Butler didn't fare well against the two elite Big East teams, with an 0-4 mark against Villanova and Xavier, but the Bulldogs played well against the rest of the league, and non-conference wins over Cincinnati, Purdue, and Temple look good.
Date: Thursday, March 17
Time: 12"40 p.m. E.T.
TV Channel: truTV
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Opening Betting Line: TBD
Prediction: The advanced metrics at KenPom.com show very little separation between these two teams. Butler currently sits at No. 40 in his overall rankings, while Texas Tech is at No. 42. After the big February run, Texas Tech is trending in the wrong direction, with three losses in its last four games, including that TCU game. The Horned Frogs are one of the worst power conference teams, so that Big 12 Tournament loss is glaring. The Red Raiders are also far worse away from Lubbock. They have a 14-3 mark at home, and are just 5-9 in neutral and road games. We like the Bulldogs to acclimate better to the tournament setting, and advance to play the Virginia-Hampton winner.