Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Southland Conference Tournament Preview

The Southland Conference is wide-open. SE Louisiana and Northwestern State tied for the league title on the final day of the season, while Sam Houston State and Texas San-Antonio were both in it down to the wire. Those four teams were the ones with 10 wins or more, but three others finished .500 or better.
Favorites: SE Louisiana had the league championship locked up until they lost two games to McNeese State, an 8-8 squad, in the second half of the season. They are lead by Ricky Woods and Nate Lofton, a great frontcourt duo that carries the Lions. They combine for 29 points and 15 rebounds per game. Jonathan Patton is another double figure scorer. The Lions lead the league in scoring defense by a wide margin. Northwestern State won their final eight games to grab a share of the league championship. They are a balanced team with no go-to-player, but they are very deep (11 guys average over 10 minutes per game). Jermaine Wallace is their main threat on the offensive end. Sam Houston State lost their final two games to cost themselves a share of the league title. They are the only team to rank in the top 5 of the conference in both offense and defense. Joe Thompson is one of the top scorers in the league, and the Bearkats lead the conference in field goal shooting defense by a pretty large margin.
Sleepers: Lamar is loaded on offense. They lead the league in scoring, and have the Southland's leading point producer in Alan Daniels. In addition, Raymond Anthony puts up almost 16 a game and is the conference's second leading assist man. Thomas Fairley is a solid rebounder. Texas State is a solid defensive team and has a great duo in Anthony Dill and Josh Naylor. Dill is one of the best players in the conference.
Prediction: With several teams capable of running the table to get the automatic bid, it is tough to pick a champion. But I'm going to go with SE Louisiana. They have the best scoring defense in the conference, as well as the best frontcourt combination in the Southland. Lamar is going to make a run as the #5 seed to the final, but they will fall to the Lions.

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