MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KAMC) — The Texas Tech Red Raiders on Friday were just one day from playing the school’s first game in the Final Four.
The Raiders are one of the best defensive teams in the country, and they’ve spent most of the last two seasons ranked in the top 25.
Even so, they’re are one of two teams in Minneapolis that hasn’t made it this far before — and considered the underdog. The betting money says they are least likely to win the title.
It might not be great news, but it’s nothing Head Coach Chris Beard is worried about.
“It’s part of it. We won the Big 12 regular season championship. We’ve been ranked for most of the year. I think it’s just part of it,” Beard said. “I have a lot of confidence in our guys because we are led by those four seniors, and our young guys listen. I think we’ve got a lot to worry about. It’s about Michigan St. and how good they are. I don’t worry about other things. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys. These are veteran guys.”
Still, all the national attention that comes with the Final Four is new, and it would be easy to get caught up in the nonsense.
Beard had a message for his players about that very thing.
“Coach says, ‘smell the roses.’ So, when you’re here at this stage, something you worked so hard to get, you’ve got to enjoy it, but there’s 40 minutes to be played. You got to stick to what got you here, the process, the toughness, and the grit, and the togetherness,” Norense Odiase said. “Everything that embodies our team and got us here.”
“We’ve got to be ourselves on this stage no matter how much the surroundings around us change. We need all the support from Texas. We are happy to be the only Texas team here. We’ve got a lot of love from Red Raider fans, as well as every other fan in Texas. We thank you guys for sticking with this team. We hope to give you great pride on Saturday,” Odiase said.
The Final Four airs on CBS on Saturday. The Red Raiders and Michigan State play the second game in Minneapolis.