Texas Tech’s X-Factor Secret Weapon for the Super Regional in Lubbock
For the fifth time since 2014 and the third straight NCAA Tournament, the Red Raiders will host a Super Regional at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech University will host the winner of the Palo Alto Regional, the Stanford Cardinal, who needed an extra game to beat the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Both Texas Tech and Stanford have nearly identical records, but those are deceiving numbers because the two schedules were not created equally. With 15 teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament field other than Texas Tech, the Red Raiders have already played five of the teams left standing -- all three SEC teams from the opening weekend, South Florida and Texas. That gives them a record of 5-4 in 9 total games.
Stanford has played zero teams remaining in the NCAA tournament. Advantage: Texas Tech.
We'll get into a deeper preview of the stats in future articles this week, but even with this being an 8-seed vs a 9-seed in the tournament, I'm comfortable stacking up Texas Tech's numbers against Stanford's, and also giving the advantage to Texas Tech.
Neither of these are an x-factor, though; that's just normal preview fodder. Playing at home for Texas Tech has gone beyond the x-factor realm into just straight power play, with the Red Raiders playing at nearly an 85 percent winning clip since their last Regional lost at home in total games, and 87 percent in postseason games at home since Sam Houston beat them twice in a row in 2017. Texas Tech hasn't lost back-to-back games at Dan Law Field since.
In the 2021 regular season, Texas Tech was 24-5 in the friendly confines, losing a single series to Baylor at home in 2021.
To me, an x-factor has to have an element of surprise. No one should be surprised that Texas Tech plays better at home.
Maybe the fans are an x-factor? As great as the fans have been in years past, they'll be doubly important this week as Stanford is in for a bit of a culture shock coming from COVID-19 wasteland California, where fans haven't been allowed to watch games in full capacity all year long.
Still, that's not my x-factor.
Maybe some specific players? "Mr. June" Kurt Wilson or Bragan Award Finalist Jace Jung? Nope. An All-American in Micah Dallas switching to closer? Huge, but not my x-factor.
My x-factor is the sun. That big, bright, ball of molten fire.
That's right, the Palo Alto boys were in jackets last night as they beat UC Irvine at nearly 1 a.m. local time. The next baseball they play will be 105 degrees on the thermometer at the airport and 145 degrees on the turf. The Red Raiders haven't had to deal with much extreme heat yet, but they'll be much more acclimated to the brutal temperatures this week than Stanford is.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders and Stanford Cardinal will then play again at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 12th where it's expected to hit triple digits again. An 'if necessary' Sunday afternoon game will be played in a balmy 95 degrees.
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