NCAA countdown: No. 49 Louisiana Tech
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: Louisiana Tech enjoyed a season decorated with 27 wins, a share of the regular-season conference championship and the team’s first ranking in the top 25 poll in more than 28 years.
Yet one accomplishment was clearly missing: the NCAA tournament.
The Bulldogs’ promising season derailed in the home stretch. They lost four of their final five games, including a stunning upset to Texas-San Antonio in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament that all but destroyed any storybook endings.
Louisiana Tech enters 2013-14 with the same postseason aspirations, bringing back four starters and 11 players who all saw significant time last season. But the path to the NCAAs certainly won’t come as easily, as the Bulldogs begin their first year in a newly restructured Conference USA.
The good news: Louisiana Tech coach Michael White’s veteran-laden group is the most talented and polished in the league, making it the favorite.
Coach’s corner: “We had a great year, but we didn’t achieve the ultimate goal. With how well the season was going, we could almost taste it. Then the wheels fell off. There’s definitely a lot of motivation with these guys after the way things ended. You could see it in their eyes during the spring. That drive will help us. We don’t have to revamp everything, we just have to be better in certain scenarios.” — White, who enters his third season on the Bulldogs’ sideline.
2012-13 in review: 27-7 overall (16-2 WAC regular-season champs), lost in NIT second round.
Path to the Dance: Like last season, it’ll likely take an automatic bid to get to the tournament, even in a much more well-rounded league, Conference USA. That outlook could change if C-USA teams excel in the non-conference schedule, but the sans-Memphis conference will now be looked at as more of a mid-major conference in the same breath as the Missouri Valley.
Conference outlook: It’s not to be forgotten that Southern Mississippi beat Louisiana Tech in the second round of the NIT. Southern Mississippi, last year’s runner-up in C-USA, could again be … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 49 Louisiana Tech, click here.]