This week’s question is what non-conference team are you most excited Texas Tech playing and the one opponent that you’d love to play.
Daniel Swanberg: It’s not a big surprise that I cannot wait for the showdown with preseason #1 ranked Zags. We have the tournament history with them and they will arguably be the strongest opponent on our schedule all season. Their roster is stacked with all-star recruits. And, they have one of the best coaches on their side in Mark Few. He has been tried many times to be poached by his alma mater, Oregon.
A quote from at the time Oregon athletics director (and Few’s longtime friend) Pat Kilkenny, was fantastic:
“It was a little contentious for the two hours,” Kilkenny recalled of his meeting with Few at a rest stop in Arlington, Ore. “I believed strongly Mark would be making a huge mistake not leaving a place that didn’t have the resources that Oregon could avail him. Mark said, ‘Oregon’s never gonna get it done, I’m at a better place.’ The conversation was polarizing.”
The Zags are the team to beat on this non-conference schedule. Mark Adams versus Mark Few should be spectacular.
Thinking about other squads that would be a huge wish on my list to play…. I am very grateful of the recent matches against Kentucky, Louisville and Duke. Those 3 would have been my answer, and next on the list is North Carolina. I’d love to get a chance to go toe-to-toe with another blue blood of college basketball. We need to make it happen sooner rather than later.
Michael LaBarre: I mean, it has to be Gonzaga right? Facing one of the best teams the last few years and the Bulldogs wanting revenge for that epic Elite Eight match a couple years ago? There is only one player on the team from that Final Four team, and he was redshirted (McCullar), and no one from the Gonzaga side. Too bad this wasn’t played a year earlier like it was previously scheduled.
However, don’t sleep on that Providence game. That will be a fun road test with a legendary Big East school in a region that gets forgotten about in recent years as a passionate college basketball fan base. We seem to play yearly as MSG now, but a road game in that environments will be exciting.
Michael McDonald: Eastern Washington is probably not circled on a lot of TTU fan’s calendars, but it is on mine. For obvious reasons, we did not get to attend a TTU basketball game last season, and neither did my 4-yr old. So, we’ve already bought tickets for this matchup and I’m excited to see her get to experience another home game. A lot changes from age 2 to 4, and if how much she’s enjoyed attending TTU soccer games this season is any indication, she’ll have a great time at the USA.
On top of that, Eastern Washington should be a solid team. Not only did they win the Big Sky Conference, they won their conference tournament and earned a spot in the Big Dance losing 93-84 to Kansas after leading by 8 at halftime. What looks like a sleepy little game 3 days before Christmas could be a big test for our guys.
I probably won’t be the first to say these teams for dream opponents, but it’s gotta be North Carolina, right? The Ham Slam was the last time these two teams faced off. If not UNC, I’d pick UCLA: a storied program with some recent success who’s currently picked #2 in the preseason poll. Bring ’em on.
Seth Jungman: I’m going with Tennessee, although both Providence and Gonzaga (largely Gonzaga) are really good choices. My niece goes to school at Brown, so she’d actually be able to go to that game in Rhode Island, which will be a great test as a true away game prior to the Big 12. Gonzaga will start two freshmen likely to go in the top 5 of the NBA Draft, forward Chet Holmgren (7-0/195) will be a match-up nightmare as those are legitimate height and weights, rail thin, but can shoot the hell out of the ball with nice handles. Point guard Hunter Sallis (6-5/175) can play either guard spot and supposed to be a terrific shooter.
But don’t overlook Tennessee, who Texas Tech will play at Madison Square Garden. I remember how special of an experience that was to just watch and I’m excited to watch Texas Tech play at the Mecca again. I’d also add that Tennessee sports 3 players that have a good chance of getting drafted, power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10/235), 5-star freshman Kennedy Chandler (6-1/170), and shooting guard Justin Powell (6-6/185). I think that Chandler is a pass-first point guard and Texas Tech doesn’t have a real match-up for him other than Nadolny. Huntley-Hatfield is going to be a match-up problem too, a true big-man that’s comfortable handling the ball and many considered him to be the best power forward in the nation last year (Duke’s Paolo Banchero is probably the best).
As far as a game, I’ve always been in love with UCLA, the baby blue, the gold letters, learning about John Wooden as a kid, just the whole vibe of Pauley Pavilion sounds great. I was always in love with the Pac-10 for whatever reason, and loved watching UCLA.
Yesterday was the Big 12 Media Day and you can of course catch the official site social media channels to catch content, but would also point you to Dallas Morning News’ Ryan Mainville has an excellent recap.