Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sun Belt conference tournament preview

This is part 29 of a 33-part series in this blog, designed to give you all the information you need to know about each conference's tournament, and the postseason prospects of every single team in the conference.

Final standings:
Georgia St 15-5
Georgia Southern 14-6
Louisiana-Monroe 14-6
Louisiana-Lafayette 13-7
Texas-Arlington 10-10
Appalachian St 9-11
South Alabama 9-11
Arkansas-Little Rock 8-12
Texas St 7-13
Arkansas St 6-14
Troy 5-15

Conference tournament format:  Thursday March 12 to Sunday March 15.  Appalachian St is ineligible.

This is not a straight-up bracket.  Only the top 8 are invited (well, top 9 minus App State).  And instead of a straight bracket, the top 2 seeds get a double bye and the 3rd and 4th seed get a single bye.

1) Georgia St vs. 4) Louisiana-Lafayette vs. 5/8) Texas-Arlington/Texas St
2) Georgia Southern vs. 3) Louisiana-Monroe vs. 6/7) South Alabama/Arkansas-Little Rock

The stakes:
Georgia St has an RPI way higher than the rest of the conference.  Let's investigate.  They scheduled up and have the RPI to prove it, and did beat Green Bay once.  But they also lost to all the other good teams they played.  In the end, that smells 14 seed to me, but we'll see how much the committee wants to rely on the raw RPI numbers.

Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Monroe have profiles that seem to suggest they'd be on the 15/16 fence.  However, there have been enough upsets everywhere that they're probably safe as 15 seeds.  In any event, they're shoo-ins for the CBI or CIT.  And speaking of those, Louisiana-Lafayette is eligible and probably a lock as well.  Texas-Arlington is just above .500 and is probably a CIT bubble team at this stage.

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