Texas Tech Men's Basketball was picked 7th in the Big 12 Preseason poll, the third consecutive year they find themselves in this situation. Of course, last year Texas Tech exceeded all expectations by reaching the Elite 8 for the first time ever, with a top three finish in the conference.

Can the Red Raiders replicate the 2018 success?

When the final ranking dropped last season, Texas Tech landed 6th on the list. Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith are now gone. Eight players from last year's 27-win roster do return, but six of the top seven producers are gone, too. J

arrett Culver is the returning star, along with some JUCO seniors Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis, along with some talented freshmen.

Even outside the Big 12, Texas Tech isn't getting the hype that a team usually gets after finishing in the Elite 8 the previous season.

The SI.com Big 12 Preview had Texas Tech picked at 6th, with this writeup from a scout:

“Their motion stuff dictates a lot of what they do... People don’t realize how good they were defensively last year, it was nightmarish... Jarrett Culver can do everything, he’s not the athlete Zhaire Smith is, but Culver can run the offense and score effectively... Culver could be one of the best players in the conference. He’s smart, he’s long, I love his game... Picking up the transfer [Matt] Mooney was huge for them... Mooney can score, he’s a quality three-point shooter, he’s not afraid to take big shots... [Tariq] Owens is a long, slender guy. That s--- might work in the Big East, but you don’t see that work in our conference unless they’re as good as a guy like [Mo] Bamba... Brandone Francis is going to have a big role, he elevated his game when they were shorthanded last season... Francis has gained a lot of confidence in his jumper, that will serve them well.”

While I agree with most of this writeup, it's my hope this guy is dead wrong about Tariq Owens. What he doesn't know, obviously, is that Texas Tech's strength and conditioning staff is one of the best in the country, and Owens has added around 25 pounds and more than two inches to his vertical. I think that s--- will work in the Big 12.

The guys at bustingbrackets.com say that Texas Tech's ceiling is a 5th seed in the NCAA Tournament with a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16, but that's a longshot: "With so many players gone and having to play fewer guys, it’ll be a big adjustment for some of these guys. If they get it together there’s no reason they can’t be a 5 or 6 seed and potentially advance to the Sweet 16. I don’t think they have much of a shot to go any further though."

The good news is the preseason polls mean absolutely nothing and they only fuel the team to overcome the adversity. So, in the spirit of that, I pick Texas Tech to finish 10th in the Big 12.

I've never enjoyed the anticipation of being dead wrong more.

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