First Place on the Line in Conference USA at the Thomas Assembly Center

Feb 27, 2014

First place in Conference USA will be on the line tonight as Louisiana Tech plays its final home game inside the Thomas Assembly Center (TAC) versus league-leader Middle Tennessee State. “We have a lot to play for,” said Louisiana Tech head coach Michael White.  “We have no margin for error as it relates to having a chance of at least sharing a conference championship which would be a tremendous feat.  We have a tough road ahead of us with Middle Tennessee.  We have to lay it on the line Thursday night.”

Coach White is also hoping for an energetic crowd within the friendly confines of the Thomas Assembly Center.  “Our crowd has been great this season.  We are very proud of the progress we have made as a program in developing the atmosphere in the TAC.  It has helped us win some big games. Thursday night, we are hoping that our people come out.  That our Bulldog faithful come see us one last time.”  To say that Louisiana Tech boasts a strong home court would be an understatement as the Bulldogs are 37-5 SU at home under coach White, including winning 30 of their last 31 games in the TAC.  More importantly, the Bulldogs have won with a scoring margin of 17.1 points per game, with 17 of the 37 victories coming by 20 or more points.

Louisiana Tech Offense:

Louisiana Tech possesses an explosive offense that is averaging 83.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow just 72.6 points per game.  Even more impressive is the fact that the Bulldogs are 12-1 at home this season where they are averaging 86.6 points per game on 46.7% shooting from the field.  Overall, Louisiana Tech is 10.6 points per game better than average offensively, which is good enough to have success against a very good Middle Tennessee State defense that is 6.8 points per game better than average (64.0 points per game to teams that would combine to average 70.8 points per game).

Before the game, Louisiana Tech will be honoring four seniors – Kenyon McNeail, Cordarius Johnson, Jaron Johnson and Chris Anderson – all of whom have been integral components to the Bulldogs’ success this season.  One of those four have been the team’s leading scorer in six of the last eight games and three of them are averaging at least 12.5 points per game during conference play.  “This group has been incredible,” said coach White.  “I was blessed to inherit Cordarius Johnson and Kenyon McNeail, both four-year Bulldogs who both had good freshman years, respectively, and as sophomores they had to adjust to a new coach and a new system.  They have been high-character guys who have come to work every day.”

Louisiana Tech Defense:

Louisiana Tech is allowing 66.9 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.3 points per game, thereby making the Bulldogs 4.4 points per game better than average defensively. However, Tech’s defensive intensity improves significantly within the TAC where the Bulldogs are limiting opponents to a mere 61.9 points per game on 39.9% shooting from the floor and 25.5% from three-point territory.  Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee arrives in town with a pedestrian offense that is 1.2 points per game better than average (73.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 72.0 points per game), but the Blue Raiders are only averaging 67.3 points per game on the road this season.  Overall, Louisiana Tech possesses a 3.2 points per game advantage defensively over the Blue Raiders’ attack, but that projection fails to take into account the home/road dichotomy discussed earlier herein.

Technical Analysis:

From a technical standpoint, Middle Tennessee State is a money-burning 4-14 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning record, including 0-6 ATS versus opponents with a win percentage between .600 and .800.  The Blue Raiders are also a woeful 3-12 ATS on the road following a conference win, 4-19 ATS on the road after being installed as favorites and 3-11 ATS on the road off three or more consecutive wins.  There is no question that Middle Tennessee State is the hottest team in Conference USA after winning nine straight, but maintaining such success on the road has never been the Blue Raiders’ strong suit (see above).

Take Louisiana Tech minus the points and invest with confidence.