Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Southland conference tournament preview

This is part 24 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
New Orleans 13-5
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 12-6
Stephen F Austin 12-6
Houston Baptist 12-6
Sam Houston St 10-8
Lamar 10-8
SE Louisiana 9-9
Nicholls St 7-11
Abilene Christian 7-11
Northwestern St 7-11
Incarnate Word 7-11
Central Arkansas 7-11
McNeese St 4-14

Tournament format:
Okay, sit down because this section will take awhile.  Neutral site at Katy, Texas, from Wednesday March 8 to Saturday March 11.  Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian are still transitioning and are ineligible.

Only the top 8 get invites, and it's a double bye for the top 2 teams.  Single bye for the 3 and 4 seeds.  Convoluted, but designed to protect its top seeds.  Worked great in years past when Stephen F and Sam Houston separated from the rest of the conference.  This year....notsomuch with the crowded top.

The matchups:
1) New Orleans vs. 4/5/8) Houston Baptist/Sam Houston St/Central Arkansas
2) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. 3/6/7) Stephen F Austin/Lamar/SE Louisiana

The stakes:
Very low.  Southland is RPI 27, and no one is a top 150 RPI team.  Everything screams 16 seed, unless multiple big upsets happen elsewhere.  New Orleans is RPI 179, TAMU-CC is 154, HBU is 155.  So there's a reasonable chance they can miss Dayton, but it's still more likely than not that they end up there.  It'll depend what happens elsewhere.

The entire conference has 4 Top 150 wins, so that's where we stand there.

Relating to the CIT, TAMU-CC, Houston Baptist, SFA, Sam Houston, Lamar, and SELa are all eligible.  It might be interesting to see which teams play in the postseason, given all those options.  God knows how these tournaments will decide which teams to select.

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