What can the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs accomplish this season? Well, considering the number of teams that should be competitive within Conference USA this season, they are going to have to do some very good work to reach 20 wins and a possible berth in a post-season tournament like the NIT or CBI.
Of course, we're getting ahead of ourselves a little. What is first on the agenda is a date with the Old Dominion Monarchs, who are coming off a thrilling victory and have some marquee wins on their ledger.
These squads are slated to get together on Thursday night at the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, VA.
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ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH: Eric Konkol's team took care of business last time out, dispensing of Middle Tennessee by a 73-56 count. Anthony Duruji was the man of the hour, scoring 19 points, and 6-7 junior forward Mubarak Muhammed has eleven points and ten rebounds. The Bulldogs (13-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) took advantage of a mistake-prone Blue Raider team by forcing 17 turnovers and held them to 27% from three-point range. Among the concerns for Konkol include this team's inability to hold opponents to second shots, as they are 270th nationwide in Defensive Rebounding Percentage. Any team that is proficient from beyond the arc is a threat, as they've surrendered 35.4% from out there. As a team that lacks a lot of size, LaTech has to be able to find its shooting range from somewhere, but they are outside of the top 100 from both two and three-point territory. And they are even worse when it comes to free throws (just 68.7%). As far as "go-to" guys are concerned, Louisiana Tech has five players averaging in double figures, with JaColby Pemberton the guy who stands to do the most damage from downtown (about 42%). DaQuan Bracey, the leading scorer at 13.4 points a game, is also #70 in the nation in Assist Rate, and that is a high rating, considering that there are 353 starting point guards in the country.
ABOUT OLD DOMINION: Having taken a tough loss against Florida Atlantic, the Monarchs bounced back to beat FIU 75-74. It was a thriller, as Dajour Dickens put back a missed shot with just 1.1 seconds left for the winner. Ahmad Caver had 22 points, with B.J. Stith chipping in 19, and the two had seven triples between them. Old Dominion (12-5 SU, 8-8 ATS) committed 21 turnovers but also had 16 offensive rebounds. And that has been a strength of sorts for this club, which, at 32%, ranks in the upper 20% of teams in the country in that category. And they are not going to allow Louisiana Tech many second shots if they can help it; Jeff Jones' crew is 15th best in the nation in keeping the opposition off the offensive boards. While they haven't been too good at making shots inside the arc (46.2%), they have been double-tough in terms of defending two-pointers, yielding just 40.8% (which is #5 in the country). If you foul them, you're not in bad shape, as the Monarchs have converted on only 66.3% of their attempts. As a result, only 15.3% of their total points have come from the line. Caver, the leading scorer, also handles the ball the most and is 66th nationally in Assist Rate. Stith is the other big scorer, and teams that have been able to neutralize that duo have had some success against ODU.
1. Louisiana Tech's Mubarak Muhammed has his work cut out for him, as Old Dominion guards its defensive boards well. But he is making his mark on the glass, ranking 57th in the nation in Offensive Rebounding Percentage.
2. While Louisiana Tech is without a notable non-conference win to speak of, ODU has registered victories over Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth.
3. Old Dominion is one of those teams that likes to take its time; they hold the ball on offense for an average of 19.2 seconds per possession. Out of the 353 teams who play Division I ball, that is slower than all but fifteen of them.
PREDICTION: Old Dominion 71, Louisiana Tech 64 Bet Now
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