Chris Beard had to repeat himself in order to fully absorb his current reality.  The Texas Tech head coach needed to reaffirm that his Red Raiders are heading to the Final Four.

Even folks with supreme confidence like Beard are occasionally surprised by the improbability of their triumphant feats and can become overwhelmed with elation. 

The fans in Lubbock, Texas have many individuals to thank for this joyride of a season.

Jarrett Culver is a transcendent player and a bona fide bucket-getter. He’s also the greatest player to ever wear the scarlet and black with respect to Andre Emmett and Jarrius Jackson.

Transfers Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens have buoyed the team with their reliable play on both ends.  Davide Moretti stretches the floor with knockdown perimeter shooting.

Meanwhile, seniors Brandone Francis and Norense Odiase provide intangibles like leadership and tangibles like the fourteen points and fifteen rebounds that Odiase posted in Texas Tech’s second-round stomping of Buffalo. 

These individuals are great on their own merits. However, they head to Minneapolis together for the program’s first-ever Final Four berth due to their unbreakable bond as a team.

Its architect is the relentless Beard, whose systematic preparation and emphasis on attention to detail has transformed this program from Big 12 afterthought to national powerhouse. Beard and his staff’s exhaustive game-planning translates into the nation’s most efficient defense, which is a nightmare for opposing offenses.

From Hardwood To Hollywood

The 2019 cover of 'Us', Jordan Peele's horror film produced by Blumhouse Productions. Jordan Peele Blumhouse Productions succeed alongside fellow underdog Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Credit-Blumhouse Productions

While we’re on the subject of nightmares, have you seen Us yet? 

Jordan Peele’s second film is a mysterious horror flick that’s also the most introspective and affecting movie of 2019 so far.

Peele’s meticulous writing and direction has elevated him to “I’ll watch anything he creates” status for many film lovers.  His directorial debut, Get Out, is one of the most impactful and popular movies of this decade.

Peele’s two masterpieces were both produced by Blumhouse Productions, an independent horror studio that’s emerged as a budding dynasty.

Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, was abruptly fired from Paramount Pictures despite producing the hugely successful Paranormal Activity.  Since then, Blum has achieved massive redemption as his company partnered with Universal Pictures, one of the industry’s marquee organizations.

Best of all, Blum’s little-horror-studio-that-could has risen to great heights without compromising its creative vision. 

Blum runs his company with a pragmatic leadership style that mirrors the organizational cultures of thriving Silicon Valley start-ups.  He values input from employees at all levels and allows great artists like Peele to exercise creative autonomy.

Blumhouse is quickly becoming a household name thanks to Peele, but the company’s catalogue boasts many excellent titles.  In addition to its frightening franchises that turned extraordinary profits like the Paranormal Activity films and The Purge series, the indie studio has produced creepy box office hits like Happy Death Day and Split and revived the iconic Halloween franchise.

Lest you assume that the studio is one-dimensional, Blumhouse has also produced Oscar-worthy dramas like Whiplash and BlacKkKlansman. These two films, along with Get Out and Us, indicate the production company’s dedication to curating innovative and thought-provoking projects.

While Blumhouse has diversified its portfolio, it’s also avoided diving into big-budget projects like superhero franchises.  Blum told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s “never had any luck following the market…[this] never worked for me.”

He’s a classic example of someone achieving great success by forging a new trail instead of following the well-worn paths in front of him.

The Underdog Mentality

Chris Beard cuts down the net after his Texas Tech Red Raiders advance to the Final Four in March Madness 2019.
Credit-CBS Sports via Getty Images

Which brings us back to Coach Beard and the Red Raiders…

When you watch Texas Tech play, you won’t see a team that conforms to the sport’s contemporary styles.  In an era characterized by spreading the floor and seeking open three-pointers, the Red Raiders only attempted 631 threes this season, which ranked 294th nationally.

Make no mistake, they can make threes (nearly thirty-seven percent as a team); they just don’t live and die with long-range shots like many of their peers.  It’s worth noting that Texas Tech features elite perimeter defense as opponents shot a lackluster thirty-percent from beyond the arc against them this season (18th nationally).

So good luck beating them from the outside (just ask the Michigan Wolverines).

Ultimately, Texas Tech does not fit the Cinderella profile. That is, unless your primary takeaway from the classic fairy tale is that Cinderella is a cold-blooded badass.

However, the Red Raiders are still an unheralded program. Few experts and analysts picked them to reach Minneapolis.  Odiase explains that he and his teammates have adopted “the underdog mentality” as their collective mindset and as the “heart” of their program.

Furthermore, the senior big man told Doug Haller of The Athletic that he and his teammates are still motivated by outsiders’ misguided preseason expectations of his team.

These Red Raiders, once projected to finish seventh in the Big 12, have transformed into a terrifying opponent.

Blumhouse Productions has thrilled and captivated audiences with horror films that feature magnificent storytelling.  Blum established the culture and foundation, while Peele’s groundbreaking films vaulted the indie studio into a globally-recognized brand. 

Beard and Peele are two men with unparalleled devotion to their respective crafts and a shared ability to elicit great performances from talented and overlooked performers.

Culver is the Big 12 Player of the Year and will surely be a lottery pick whenever he opts for the NBA. Lupita N’yongo appears destined to secure a Best Actress nomination for her role in Us, her first appearance as a leading actress despite a formidable resume. 

I have watched Us and Texas Tech Basketball in the past few weeks and I’m not sure which is scarier. But I am sure that both have enduring legacies.

What’d you think of this new crossover style? Like it? Don’t like it? Comment below and tell us why!

The Underdog Newsletter

A bite-sized rundown of the best underdog stories in sports — yeah, just the good stuff handpicked and delivered every Tuesday.

Subscribe