Louisiana Tech is the latest in a long line of bubble teams that suffered painful losses over the last week, as New Mexico State trounced them by 18 points in Las Cruces on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs entered the night hanging onto their bubble hopes by the slimmest of margins, celebrating every time a team like Kentucky lost to Georgia, or UMass lost to Butler, or Virginia lost to Boston College. While LTU still has a 26-4 record, they have done so by beating up on a schedule full of teams that, frankly, weren’t all that good.
Their best win?
Southern Miss, who hasn’t beaten team ranked higher than 67th in the RPI this season.
Their other four top 100 wins? Denver and New Mexico State at home as well as a sweep of a Utah State team that has been just devastated by injuries. Worse still, 14 of those 26 wins have come against teams ranked outside the top 200 in the RPI. They’ve also lost to McNeese State, who is 246th in the RPI.
Simply put, the Bulldogs were a borderline bubble team entering the night. While losing on the road to a team ranked in the top 100 isn’t necessarily a killer, missing out on the opportunity to add another top 100 road win to their resume is what hurts more.
Worse still, LTU visits Denver on Saturday, who beat the WAC’s fourth-place team by 29 points at home on Thursday night. Lose to Denver, and not only will the Bulldogs end the regular season by missing out on two top 100 road wins, they’ll lose their grip on the WAC’s outright regular season title; the Pioneers are now sitting just one game behind Mike White’s club.
And while Virginia and Kentucky and UMass still have a chance at an at-large bid, the difference for LTU is that they are the best team in the conference. They won’t have a chance to add wins over the likes of Miami or Florida or St. Louis to their resume.
It’s now auto-bid or bust for the Bulldogs.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.