Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sun Belt Conference Tournament Preview

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The Sun Belt Conference didn’t have a great conference race for the top spot, but seeds two through six in the conference tournament were separated by only two games. South Alabama clinched the title a few weeks ago with their 13-2 start, but the Jaguars dropped their final three games heading into the conference tournament. That means one could expect an exciting conference tournament.

Favorites: South Alabama got off to a hot start in conference play, and carried that to a league title. However, as mentioned above, USA didn’t finish well, losing their final three games to end the season. The Jaguars don’t have much momentum heading into the conference tournament, although their focus will be back. The backcourt of Demetric Bennett and Daon Merritt is one of the best in the league, with Bennett the do-it-all player and Merritt the distributor. Up front, Ernest Little is one of the best big men in the league, putting up almost 13 and 9 per game. Western Kentucky was the preseason favorite, and they might be hitting their stride. They have lost their five league games by a combined 16 points, and have won three in a row. Courtney Lee is the best player in the conference, and Tyrone Brazelton is a very good point guard. Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Ty Rogers provide even more perimeter production. The Hilltoppers do lack a consistent post presence, though.

Contenders: Florida Atlantic finished third in the East division, but they knocked off Western Kentucky and South Alabama in their final four games. DeAndre Rice and Carlos Monroe form the best inside-outside combination in the combination, with Rice lighting it up from the perimeter and Monroe dominating down low. Arkansas State won their final four games of the season to get a share of the West division title. Adrian Banks is one of the best scorers in the conference, putting up over 21 per game. Isaac Wells anchors the interior, averaging over 15 points and 8 rebounds a contest. Louisiana-Monroe lost three of their final four, but still won a share of the West title. They have four guys averaging in double-figures, led by guards Tony Hooper and Jonas Brown.

Sleeper: The Troy Trojans only finished 8-10 in the conference, but they won four of their last six games, including a win at South Alabama and a one-point loss to Western Kentucky. They have five players averaging in double-figures, giving them one of the most balanced lineups in the league. O’Darien Bassett leads the way from the perimeter, while Richard Chaney and Sammy Sharp form arguably the best frontcourt duo in the league.

Prediction: The conference tournament should be wide-open, with six teams finishing above .500, but all within three games of each other. South Alabama won the regular-season title, but Western Kentucky will get the automatic bid. They have a terrific perimeter group and the best player in the conference in Courtney Lee. He can carry the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament. This is going to be one of the most exciting tournaments around.


  1. North Texas, bitch.


  2. North texas defeat West Kentucky....twice.

  3. North Texas North Texas North Texas...

  4. UNT receive a beatdown by ASU, if I'm not mistaken.

  5. North Texas..... Yeah, BABY!!!!

  6. You beat writers have no respect for the current SBC Champs. UNT