The NCAA season has reached it first round of the postseason. With the regular season now in the books, we are in the heart of the conference tournaments. Come Wednesday, March 8th, a good majority of the conferences will have started their respective tournaments. Several tickets have already have been punched, with more to come each and every day in the coming week.
One of the tournaments that will be tipping off for the first time on Wednesday will be the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Here at INSC we have you covered, with predictions down below. This tourney will conclude on Sunday, March 12th.
You can check out the seedings and a link to the bracket below.
(2) Georgia State
(3) Georgia Southern
(4) Texas State
(5) Arkansas State
(7) UL Lafayette
(8) Coastal Carolina
(9) South Alabama
(10) Little Rock
(11) Appalachian State
(12) Louisianna Monroe
The Sun Belt Conference will have twelve teams going at it with the prize being an automatic bid. The first round will see four games, with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals. These first four games will feature Coastal Carolina taking on South Alabama, Arkansas State vs Louisianna Monroe, ULL vs Little Rock and Troy against Appalachian State. I will take South Alabama 74-71, Arkansas State 75-64, Litte Rock 74-70 and Troy 81-74.
South Alabama will move on to take on the top-seeded UT-Arlington. UTA is the class of this conference because they know how to create possessions and are decent at shooting the ball. South Alabama is not exactly good at either of those things. So this one seems like a fairly easy pick in mu estimation. Give me UT-Arlington 76-71.
Thanks to their opening round win, Arkansas State will face off with Texas State. This one may come as a surprise, but the underdogs are better at shooting the ball in this one. Arkansas State will win this one thanks to that fact plus their ability to play better defense. In other words, the five seed pulls off the upset, 68-64.
Little Rock’s win earns them a game against Georgia State in the quarterfinals. The statistical edge certainly goes to Georgia State. The numbers are not vastly different, but they still are on top in almost every important metric. So while they will not win by a wide margin, Georgia State will still come out on top. I am calling for the two seed to come out on top 70-69.
Georgia Southern will close out the bottom of this bracket against first round winners Troy. This one will not go quite as smoothly for the favorites. While the numbers overall are fairly similar, the underdogs Troy have the big edge in terms of free throw shooting. And that will be the difference in this one. Give me Troy 82-76.
The first semifinal game will pit UT-Arlington against Arkansas State. While UTA is the top seed, this will be far from an easy one. Arkansas State is no walk in the park, but still, UT-Arlington is still the more talented of the two teams. Arkansas State’s biggest advantage comes in the form of shooting threes, but it will not be enough. Give me UTA 74-72.
To close out the semis, we see Georgia State face Troy. This six seed is better than their ranking would indicate. So while many would see this as a two seed getting an easy semifinals matchup, I see this as upset city. Troy knows how to create more possessions than their opponents, and they can get to the line and make the freebies at a solid rate. Those type of numbers help a team in a tournament style setting. Give me Troy 77-72.
So our final will have the one seed get the six seed. Once again, I see Troy putting up a solid fight. I really want to call for the upset here as well, but I think the one seed will have just enough to pull this one out. So with an NCAA Tournament spot on the line, UTA comes up with a 73-71 win to represent the Sun Belt Conference.
So what do you think? Who will emerge with a NCAA Tournament bid? Will it be an upset, or will the top seed claim their auto bid? Tell us in the comments!