Texas Tech Red Raiders vs Villanova Wildcats
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – Villanova appears determined to shoot its way to the Final Four, while Texas Tech is employing an alternative strategy. The top-seeded Wildcats can secure their second Final Four berth in three seasons Sunday when they take on the third-seeded Red Raiders in the East Regional final in Boston.
The Wildcats shot 13-of-24 from 3-point range in Friday’s 12-point win over West Virginia, improving the team to 47.8 percent from the arc in their three tournament wins. “The deeper you go, the better the teams are going to be,” star guard Jalen Brunson said. “For us, most importantly, nothing changes no matter who we play, where we play, what time we play. We play every game like it’s our last.” While the Wildcats have made 44 3-pointers through three tournament games, the Red Raiders only have made 15 and are shooting just 31.3 percent from long range in this event, but will that percentage rate be enough against Villanova? “They’ve been the No. 1 team the whole season and are great all-around,” Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans said after Friday’s 78-65 win over Purdue in the Sweet 16. “They have a great point guard and great bigs that can shoot the ball, so we will just have to get back in the film room and study up on them and get some rest.”
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT TEXAS TECH (27-9): The Red Raiders rode a combined 45 points from Evans to first- and second-round wins, but the senior guard was limited to three field goals against Purdue, although he still scored 16 points to lead the team. Zach Smith added 14 points off the bench and is shooting 15-of-19 over the last four games, while freshman Zhaire Smith has registered double-digit points in all three Big Dance contests. Texas Tech, which is playing in the Elite Eight for the first time in school history, would love another big effort out of Justin Gray, who pitched in 12 points against Purdue, matching his second-highest total of the season.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (33-4): Brunson led the Wildcats with 27 points versus West Virginia, while freshman Omari Spellman registered 18 points and eight rebounds, not to mention three assists, three blocks and two steals. Brunson has made at least half his shots in six of the last seven games, while Mikal Bridges has done so in 11 of his last 12 games, and Bridges also carries a seven-game streak of draining at least 50 percent of his 3-pointers. Phil Booth, one of the stars from Villanova’s national championship game victory two years ago, is just 2-of-11 from the field over the last two games and 5-of-20 over the last four contests.
1. Villanova needs 10 3-pointers to tie the all-time Division I record for 3-pointers in a season. (VMI had 442 in 2006-07.)
2. Jarrett Culver leads Texas Tech with 54 3-pointers. By comparison, Booth has 52 3-pointers for Villanova and he is fifth on the Wildcats in made 3s.
3. The winner of this game will face the Midwest champion – either No. 1 seed Kansas or No. 2 seed Duke – in next week’s Final Four.