MINNEAPOLIS (WOOD/AP) — Jay Bilas and Andy Katz know a thing or two about good basketball. As top analysts for major networks, they live and breathe the game. And needless to say, both couldn’t be more excited about the showdown between Michigan State and Texas Tech Saturday.
Jack Doles was able to speak with both guys. You can click on the videos above to see his full conversations.
The game will be the Final Four’s second semifinal. It’s a non-glamour pairing pitting two teams that thrive on the grind. Texas Tech (30-6) has allowed more than 70 points only five times this season and not at all in the tournament. Michigan State (32-6), with the ninth-best defense in the country, got here by shutting down more-talented, more-star-studded Duke.
The over/under on the game is 132.5, meaning there’s a good chance the first team to 65 will win.
“We try to guard at a high level,” Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said. “It’s been the identity of our teams at all different levels, and currently at Texas Tech. It’s something we try to recruit to. We certainly coach and emphasize it.”
His players are listening.
Jarrett Culver is the team’s leading scorer (18.9 points a game) and main NBA prospect, but the defensive help comes from all places. Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens were named to the All-Big 12 defensive team. Owens was also a semifinalist for the Naismith defensive player of the year. His swoop-in rejection of Rui Hachimura was the game-sealer in the Elite Eight victory over Gonzaga last week.
Texas Tech’s defense has the best points allowed-per-100 possessions ratio (84) since stat guru Ken Pomeroy started tracking the figure in 2002. The Red Raiders have held teams to 36.9 percent shooting this year, second-lowest in the country.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)