Here is everything you need to know about the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in our Texas Tech vs. Notre Dame NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview.
West Region — Second Round
No. 3 Texas Tech (26-9) vs. No. 11 Notre Dame (24-10) Sunday, Time and TV TBA
How They Got Here: Texas Tech was an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame was an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Tournament Results: Texas Tech: def. Montana State, 97-62 (first round); Notre Dame: def. Rutgers, 89-87, 2 OT (First Four); def. Alabama, 78-64 (first round).
Winner gets: A trip to the Sweet 16 next week in San Francisco.
Projected starting lineups
Texas Tech: F Kevin Obanor, F Bryson Williams, G Adonis Arms, G/F Terrence Shannon Jr., G Davion Warren.
Notre Dame: G Dane Goodwin, G Blake Wesley, F Paul Atkinson Jr., G Prentiss Hubb, G Cormac Ryan.
Players to watch
Texas Tech F Terrence Shannon Jr.: He’s been in and out of the lineup all season, and one could argue his month-long absence in the middle of the season actually helped Texas Tech become a more balanced offense. But when it comes to explosiveness, no Red Raider can beat Shannon, and he reminded everyone of that on Friday. He scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half, drained three 3-pointers and helped Tech to a huge halftime lead. He shot 5-of-7 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line as he was one of six Red Raiders in double figures. If he’s clicking this way the rest of the tournament, prepare for a deep run.
Notre Dame G Cormac Ryan: The senior from New York, New York, is on a hot streak right now. He scored 20 points against Virginia Tech in the Irish’s loss in the ACC Tournament. Then, against Rutgers in the First Four game, he scored 16 points. In that game, he shot 7-for-12 with three steals. But then, against Alabama, he set the pace with 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including seven 3-pointers. He also had six rebounds and an assist. He’s the player that Brey trusts the most defensively, as he regularly guards the opponent’s top perimeter threat. He’s one of four Irish that shoot at least 35 percent from the 3-point line. You need to keep an eye on him.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders had a blistering first half in their victory over Montana State, shooting 72 percent in the first half and built a 27-point lead at halftime. This being the NCAA Tournament, Red Raiders coach Mark Adams — the Heartland College Sports Coach of the Year Award winner — will find some things to pick apart. It could be the three straight turnovers to start the second half. It could be Bryson Williams’ foul trouble early in the game. It could be anything. But Adams, who professed to Lauren Shehadi that he was “dying inside” despite his calm demeanor before his first NCAA Tournament game as head coach, will find it. At stake now is a third trip to at least the Sweet 16 in the past four tournament appearances for the Red Raiders. The 2018 run ended in the Elite Eight. The 2019 run ended with an overtime loss to Virginia in the national championship game. Against Montana State, the Red Raiders served notice that they’re out to chase those runs down.
Notre Dame: The Irish will be playing their third game in five days, but the program has a long history in the NCAA Tournament. This is Notre Dame’s 37th NCAA Tournament appearance, which puts the Irish No. 10 all-time. The Irish’s win over Alabama brought its record in March Madness to 41-40 and brought head coach Mike Brey’s record in the NCAAs to 15-12. Freshman Blake Wesley is worth watching any time the Irish hit the floor, and you could argue he’s the program’s future. He was the first rookie in the country this season to reach 450 points, 100 rebounds, 75 assists, 50 3-point field goals and 40 steals. That allowed him to earn All-ACC Second Team & All-Rookie Team selection. You may also remember his game-winning basket over Kentucky in November. That was his home debut at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame won its only meeting with Texas Tech on Dec. 6, 1975, an 88-63 win in South Bend, Indiana.
Texas Tech 77, Notre Dame 70. Tech’s defense is at full capacity, and the offense had its best game of the season. I don’t expect the Red Raiders to shoot nearly 70 percent again, but their defense will lead them. The key for the Red Raiders is to defend the 3-pointer well. The Irish can really hurt them there.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.