College Basketball Betting: What to Make of Texas Tech’s Offensive Improvement
College basketball teams can “morph” multiple times throughout a season. Injuries, strength of schedule, and luck — both good and bad — can cause significant statistical swings that force bettors to make a decision on whether or not to believe believe in the “morph” or the larger, season-long body of work.
A prime example of this is Texas Tech’s offense. The Red Raiders have consistently been one of the best defensive team in the country. On January 1 they ranked no. 1 nationally in defensive efficiency and as of Monday morning, hold that identical rank. It’s TTU’s offense that has been tricky to figure out. After a February 2 loss to Kansas, TTU’s offensive profile was pretty dismal. Through nine Big 12 games, the Red Raiders averaged 64.1 ppg which again, isn’t all that impressive even for a team that chooses to play at a slower than average pace. After the aforementioned loss to the Jayhawks and using a 22-game sample, Texas Tech sat 106th nationally in offensive efficiency. To put it into context, of KenPom’s top 25 at the time, the next lowest rating was Houston at 51st. Since then, the Red Raiders’ offense has simply put, taken off. Over its last seven games, TTU has averaged 81 ppg or an outstanding 1.38 points per possession. The schedule likely contributed some to the uptick in production as five of those seven games were against the four worst defensive teams in the league from a defensive efficiency perspective. But even with accounting for the favorable slate, no one outside of perhaps the Red Raiders themselves, could have predicted such a meteoric offensive improvement. Remember that 106th offensive ranking? It’s now 37th, a mark within spitting distance of a handful of teams — Nevada, Buffalo, NC State, Kansas, and Creighton to name a few — we generally associate as being “offensively elite.”
I’m sure there are other examples of teams currently undergoing a late season “morph” but Texas Tech caught my eye in large part because here’s a team that is likely going to be a top three seed and in the discussion of a potential Final Four contender. A month ago, most bettors would have looked at the Red Raiders and said, “great defense but that putrid offense will keep them for making a deep March run.” Now, thanks to a seven-game swatch of incredibly efficient offensive basketball, not only does TTU’s current form look Final Four worthy but its entire body of work as well. I’ll be keeping a close eye on how the offensive performs leading up to the NCAA Tournament. I’m almost certain some regression is upcoming but it does reaffirm the philosophy that when trying to project March success, it’s important to look at not only what a team has done (season-long stats) but also what they’re capable over a smaller sample size. In the case of the Red Raiders, it’s recent offensive surge has me reconsidering them as a Final Four-caliber outfit.