Sun Belt Tournament Preview

13 Mar

Where: Lakefront Arena, New Orleans

When: 3/13-16


Who should win…#1 Georgia State dominated the conference season going 17-1 and having the most efficient offense and defense in the SBC. With Hunter, White, and Harrow, the GSU backcourt is unparalleled in the SBC, and has the potential to make a LaSalle type run from last tournament. Those guards handle the ball well and amp up the ball pressure before falling back into a zone defensively, and that’s where I have my concerns with GSU. If they face a moderately hot shooting team they can be upset. Additionally, because of the zone, they’re a terrible rebounding team. It helps to have Crider back, and Washington has been active on the glass recently, but Troy punished them with second chance points in the Panthers’ lone SBC loss, and went 12-27 from 3. The blueprint to beating this team is clearly present, and there are some teams who can shoot the ball in this tournament. 

If not them then… I think #4 Arkansas State can win the tournament if they get past Georgia State, but that means they have the hardest path. Van Slyke stretches the floor (although he’s a bit banged up), and he’s surrounded by deadly shooters in Johnson, Golden, Townsel, and Reed. With Van Slyke away from the paint so often, Washington is the only guy who can bang down low, and there’s nothing after him height wise. They can be beat inside with any height. There’s not much premier height in the SBC, but athletic 4s like Long and Fant destroyed them inside, and when the outside shot isn’t falling, they have no way of scoring. ASU is 346th in the country in points via 2pt FG. 

#2 WKU obviously has a great shot of reaching the title game with the double bye, and Fant and Price got some much needed rest, plus they went 5-1 vs their half of the bracket. Plenty of shooters, and Fant can be a matchup problem, but like most SBC teams, they can suffer from a lack of height. Turnovers can also be an issue, as Harrison-Docks hasn’t necessarily stabilized the PG position in terms of ball control. Trency Jackson can be a key because he’s one of the few players who doesn’t rely on the 3 and create his own shot. He has struggled lately though. Tough to bet against Ray Harper this time of year too. He has won with far less talent than this year. 


#3 ULL has the personnel and talent to win this tournament with Elfrid Payton running the point and the freakishly athletic Shawn Long, but they can struggle when penetration is cut off and they can’t get to the foul line, and that tended to happen against WKU, the two seed in their bracket. Can they beat WKU? Definitely, it will just take some timely outside shooting from Rimmer and Mbamalu to put them over the hump. 

The Rest

#5 UALR vs #8 Troy

Zone vs zone here but I trust Troy’s shooters with Mullahey and Williams far more in this situation. The UALR injuries have just been too much for them to overcome, and they’ll be without Neighbour tonight, and likely even if they survive Troy. 

#6 UT Arlington vs #7 UL Monroe

ULM lost both meetings, and the game they went to OT in Arlington they had Olatayo, who’s out for the year, and UTA didn’t have Reger Dowell. Between McClanahan penetration and Dowell from outside, any ULM zone will be busted. ULM hasn’t had a good win since beating Arkansas St on Jan 30. UTA’s zone can be torched from outside, but that’s not ULM’s game. UTA should advance with relative ease. 


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