by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
January 29th, 2021
#11 Texas Tech at LSU
Spread: LSU (+3); O/U: 151
Time/Location: 2:00 ET, Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-5, 4-4)
Despite having high hopes for the season, Texas Tech has still impressed for the most part, winning a number of big games and keeping it close for a long time against Baylor, a big accomplishment. Landing Mac McClung from Georgetown was one of the best pickups of the season as the player is excelling in Lubbock. McClung is hitting tons of big shots and playing the best basketball of his life, averaging 17 points per game on very good shooting from range while initiating the offense, playing good defense, and sometimes gliding through the air to finish at the rim. He’s one of the most impressive players in the country.
Farther down the roster we just have a very good Chris Beard team. Terrance Shannon is still realizing his potential as a shooter but his effect on defense is undeniable. Kyler Edwards is bombing from three and passing extremely well, sharing the playmaking loads. While Kevin McCullar has been terrible from deep this season, he’s adjusted his game to be effective in other ways, rebounding, passing, stealing, and blocking at a very high rate. Marcus Santos-Silva is one of the scariest rebounders in the conference despite being one of the smallest bigs in the country. This team is unbelievably consistent and solid on both ends. If you just looked at them you might never guess they were one of the best college basketball teams in the country, but on the court they get their business done in a way that is far from unsuspecting.
LSU Tigers (11-4, 6-3)
I expected LSU to be a good basketball team this season but I wasn’t sure about how consistent they would be. That inconsistency has reared its head a couple times this year already, namely in their losses to Florida and Kentucky. The losses to Saint Louis and Alabama are understandable, but the others are not considering the Tigers’ personnel. Will Wade is one of the best coaches in the country and his roster makeup is absolute offensive overdose. They have scoring on every level, great passing, star shooters, personality, and a very good scheme that revolves around great athletes.
Trendon Watford has done extremely well this season on the interior and may end up being the top big man in the conference one everything is said and done. His 18 points per game are monumental, his rebounding is exceptional, he’s creating offense, and he forces turnovers with his size and speed on the other end. What’s interesting, though, is that he’s not even the best player on this team. That honor goes to five-star true freshman Cam Thomas who is playing like THAT dude. He’s a stud from deep and is hitting over 22 points per game, dominating in conference play. He’s a true shooting guard in that he doesn’t do too much elsewhere, but his scoring contribution is more than enough to win games.
LSU’s offense is certainly a top 10 unit in the country. It’s fueled by great players like Thomas, Watford, Javonte Smart, and Darius Days, but it’s lopsided. The whole roster is. That shows when a star gets in foul trouble, someone misses a game, or someone just needs a break. The defense is really subpar against smart offenses and the production drops off a clip. If LSU can stay healthy and out of foul trouble this rate is sustainable. Otherwise life is going to get very tough in the Swamp.
Analysis and Pick
This game is rife with potential to be one of the most exciting of the year. Two of the most exciting guards in the country are going head to head in McClung and Thomas while the battle between Watford and the Texas Tech fleet of versatile players guarding him will be marvelous. When LSU has the ball, anything can happen. These two teams are wildly exciting and the recent knack of Texas Tech to have games come down to the final shot of McClung is nothing but epic for those watching. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll have one of those games this weekend. LSU is a great team and their stars can’t be stopped, but the drop off I mentioned won’t bode well against a rigorously tested, veteran Texas Tech bench. Everyone on Tech can play and play well and I think they’ll eat up the LSU depth. If the game is close between the first units, the Texas Tech second unit will win this game. Take Texas Tech to cover the spread at -3.