Louisiana Tech head coach Michael White announced today the 2013-14 Bulldog basketball schedule which features a 16-game Conference USA slate and a total of 12 teams who saw postseason action last season.
LA Tech hosts two exhibition games before opening up the regular season on Nov. 8 at St. Mary's, one of two teams the Bulldogs will face that were ranked in the AP Top 25 a year ago.
"We wanted to give ourselves as many opportunities as possible to compete for quality wins, while maintaining our share of home games," said White. "We will obviously be challenged by playing six NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, and at least 12 that went to postseason."
The ‘Dogs return home for the first of 14 games to be played in the Thomas Assembly Center as they take on Centenary, renewing the second longest rivalry in the program's history.
An ESPN BracketBuster return game at Central Arkansas follows before LA Tech travels to Naples, Fla. to take part in the Gulf Coast Showcase. The tournament is a bracket format and includes UNC-Greensboro, San Diego, UI-Chicago, Wagner, Stetson, St. Bonaventure and Southern Illinois.
After Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs have a road matchup with Jackson State before having a three-game home stand versus in-state foes Louisiana-Lafayette (Dec. 4), Southern (Dec. 7) and Northwestern State (Dec. 11).
"Louisiana opponents give our fan base more familiarity with who we are playing, hopefully increasing our draw," said White. "Also, as hard as home games are to obtain, playing regional opponents give us a better chance in that regard."
LA Tech then heads to Oklahoma City, Okla. on Dec. 14 for the All-College Classic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, to face Oklahoma State. OSU was ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation last season.
Two more regional games follow versus McNeese State and at UL-Monroe prior to Christmas break.
Rounding out the non-conference portion of the schedule is a road contest on Dec. 30 against a second Big 12 opponent in Oklahoma and a home contest versus Longwood on Jan. 4.
The much anticipated C-USA schedule tips off on Jan. 9 versus Florida Atlantic in a first ever meeting between the new conference mates.
"We have a long road ahead of us before entering C-USA play," said White. "By then, we should have a better feel for what we are stepping into. I do know, though, that C-USA is represented by several high-quality programs and coaches, and we feel fortunate to be a part of such a prestigious league."
LA Tech faces FIU on Jan. 11 in the TAC before travelling to New Orleans to square off against the seventh in-state opponent in Tulane (Jan. 16).
It marks the first time since the first season in the Southland Conference, 1971-72, that the Bulldogs will play seven different Louisiana teams in the same season.
On Jan. 19, Tech heads to Hattiesburg, Miss. for a showdown with Southern Miss. The two teams battled twice a year ago with the Bulldogs winning 65-55 in the regular season, but the Golden Eagles evened it up by knocking the ‘Dogs out of the second round of the NIT.
The team returns home to face Charlotte on Jan. 23 for the very first time, followed by Marshall on Jan. 25, before heading to the Lone Star State to play UTEP and UTSA on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, respectively.
Another three-game home stand takes place in Ruston with contests versus Tulsa, North Texas and Rice starting on Feb. 6.
LA Tech then heads to the east coast to play East Carolina on Feb. 20 and Old Dominion on Feb. 22, two more teams the Bulldogs have never faced on the hardwood.
The home portion of the schedule concludes with the ‘Dogs hosting Middle Tennessee on Feb. 27. The Blue Raiders compiled a 28-6 record last season while winning the Sun Belt regular season championship and receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The regular season wraps up at UAB and at Rice on March 2 and 6, respectively.
The Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas will serve as the host site for the men's C-USA Tournament to be played March 11-15.