The Las Vegas Invitational begins tomorrow with the Iowa basketball team taking on the #12 Texas Tech Red Raiders. Here is a preview of the matchup.
Almost a year ago, an unranked Iowa basketball team took down a talented but inexperienced #13 ranked Oregon team in the 2K Classic. This year, they are looking to repeat history against the #12 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders in the talent-packed Las Vegas Invitational.
After losing in last year’s NCAA Finals, the Red Raiders subsequently lost four of it’s five leading scorers including NBA bound Jarrett Culver. Replacing Culver and a savvy group of veterans is two top-100 prospects from the class of 2019 (Jahmi’us Ramsey and Terrence Shannon Jr) and Stephen F Austin graduate transfer TJ Holyfield.
So far, they’ve stepped up. Ramsey, a 6’4” guard, is leading the team in scoring with 19.2 points. Shannon Jr and Holyfield, meanwhile, are the second and third-leading scorers.
And the Red Raiders have a 5-0 record to show for it. The big caveat is that none of the teams they’ve beaten are that good. Per KenPom, the best team they’ve faced is a 243rd ranked Eastern Illinois squad that is 4-3.
When the Iowa basketball team tips off versus Texas Tech, they will be doing so as an underdog, but there is a good reason to believe this team could pull off the upset. The Hawks hold a significant size advantage over Texas Tech, even with the loss of Jack Nunge. Outside of 7-footer Russel Tchewa who plays an average of 10 minutes per game, the tallest guy on the court for the Red Raiders is often Holyfield who is 6’8”.
While the Hawks will have a size advantage, especially with big man Luka Garza in the paint, this will be an interesting matchup that will require the Iowa basketball team to do something they’ve consistently struggled to do: keep up with quick lineups and stop efficient 3-point shooting.
If they can do that, they have a good chance of pulling off the upset in Orleans Arena.
We will find out tomorrow though in Las Vegas when the game starts at 5 PM local time (7 PM CST). If you won’t be in Vegas, you can catch the game on FS1.