In creating my inaugural Bubble Watch today, I came across the strange anomaly that is Louisiana Tech. This week the Bulldogs are ranked #27 in the AP Poll and #28 in the Coaches Poll. They have a 25-3 record against D-1 competition, and yet they are nowhere to be found in my bracket projection. My rankings and bracket don’t inherently show bias to any teams, so I really don’t have anything personally against Louisiana Tech. I actually think they’re a very good team. Their pressure team surely would give teams fits in the tournament, and if they are to make it, they should be a 12 or 13, with a 14 at absolute worst.
So what gives? Why is Louisiana Tech not in my bracket, while they are in virtually everyone else’s? The reason is that the two toughest games Louisiana Tech will play all season, they haven’t played yet. Their first test is Thursday night at New Mexico St. They’re an underdog in that game. Additionally, they finish up the regular season at Denver, and they will be an underdog in that game as well. The Bulldogs still have a chance at a perfect conference season, but it won’t be easy.
In the WAC tournament, they will need to win 3 games to earn the league’s automatic bid. Given that the Bulldogs will be underdogs in the next two games, assuming one win and one loss is appropriate. That puts their record at 26-4. If they can then get to the finals and come up short, the committee has a team on their hands who would be 28-5, with only one real bad loss at McNeese St. I think 28 wins gets you in. I don’t think 27 will be enough. 27 would either mean a loss before the WAC finals or losses in the final two regular season games.
This all can be avoided by winning the WAC Tournament, but this is even a more interesting case than Drexel last year. Louisiana Tech’s Strength of Schedule is absolutely brutal for an at-large contender. They’ve played only 9 games thus far against teams ranked in my top 175! You have to challenge yourself out of conference and Drexel was punished for it last year. It’s truly amazing to me that despite 25 wins, the fate of the Bulldogs season will be decided over the course of just 10 days. They have the opportunity to prove they belong.