Conference Tournament Primer: Southland Conference

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 12th, 2014

Championship Fortnight continues with yet 10 more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the final push of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the O26 tourneys starting are the Southland, SWAC, Mountain West and Atlantic 10.

Dates: March 12-15
Site: Merrell Center (Katy, TX)

Sthland

What to expect: It would be shocking if Stephen F. Austin fails to win this tournament. The Lumberjacks are one of only three teams to go undefeated in conference play this season, dominating Southland opponents by more than 16 points per game and winning 12 of their 18 league contests by double-figure margins. In fact, Brad Underwood’s club has not lost a game of any kind since before Thanksgiving, a streak of 26 straight. They are the most offensively and defensively efficient team in the conference and rank 101 KenPom spots higher than any other Southland member. Put simply — SFA should further extend its impressive winning streak and punch a ticket to the Dance here, its first since 2009.

FavoriteStephen F. Austin. For all the reasons mentioned above, the Lumberjacks are the overwhelming, odds-on favorite in Katy this weekend.

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Rushed Reactions: #3 Florida 79, #14 Northwestern State 47

Posted by WCarey on March 22nd, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #3 Florida and #14 Northwestern State in Austin.

Three Key Takeaways.

The Gators Pulled Away from the Demons Late

The Gators Pulled Away from the Demons Late

  1. Florida’s size and the athleticism of its bigs were just too much for Northwestern State. Everyone knew Florida was going to have a size and athleticism advantage over Northwestern State, but those advantages actually turned out to be much greater than expected. In a first half that was actually hotly-contested – Florida led by just eight at the break – the Gators took advantage of their athletic bigs Erik Murphy and Patric Young. Murphy tallied 11 points and Young tallied nine points in the opening frame. When Florida pulled away in the second half, its big continued to play a key role. Murphy finished the night with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Young finished with 16 points and eight boards. Reserves Will Yeguete and Casey Prather also provided Florida with solid minutes in the post. It is not that the Northwestern State bigs were not playing hard – they absolutely were – it was just they were so heavily overmatched on both ends of the court by the size and athletic ability of the Florida frontcourt.
  2. Florida’s guards played smart and avoided taking bad shots and committing bad turnovers. Florida’s guards have rightfully earned a reputation for being inconsistent and shaky with the basketball. That was not the case against Northwestern State, as Scottie Wilbekin, Kenny Boynton, and Mike Rosario all turned in pretty solid performances for the Gators. Wilbekin, who finished with 11 points and four assists, looked very solid running the offense and he also did a commendable job of scoring when needed. Boynton, who has been an enigma throughout his time in Gainesville, showed that he can absolutely turn in an efficient game by finishing with 11 points and refraining from taking any questionable shots. Rosario scored below his season average – he averages 12.3 points per game and he only finished with eight – but he avoided making mistakes. Florida is going to face better teams than Northwestern State as it continues its run through the tournament, but if its guards remain steady, there is an opportunity for the Gators to make it to Atlanta.
  3. With Georgetown falling tonight, Florida’s road to the Elite Eight got much easier. The South region became much more interesting when two-seed Georgetown suffered the upset of the tournament thus far by losing to 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast. Before the tournament began, a vast majority of national pundits were predicting a Florida/Georgetown matchup in next week’s South Regional at Cowboys Stadium. Now because that matchup cannot occur anymore, Florida will be the healthy favorite to come out of the bottom part of the South bracket. With the win over Northwestern State, the Gators advance to a Sunday showdown with either six-seed UCLA or 11-seed Minnesota. The winner of Sunday’s game will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Florida Gulf Coast and either seven-seed San Diego State or 10-seed Oklahoma. With a six-seed being the highest possible seed the Gators will have to face before the Elite Eight, it is only logical to conclude that their road to the Elite Eight has become much easier than originally expected.

Star of the Game. Erik Murphy, Florida. The senior forward helped set the tone for the Gators all night. Four Gators finished in double figures and Murphy led the way with 18 points. Murphy’s ability to finish around the hoop and step out and hit a jumper frustrated the Demons’ bigs all evening. Murphy was also part of an impressive defensive effort turned in by the Gators that held Northwestern State to just 15 points in the second half.

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The Other 26: Bracket-Busting, South and West Edition

Posted by IRenko on March 19th, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC columnist and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Oh, well. What’s a royal ball? After all, I suppose it would be frightfully dull, and-and-and boring, and-and completely… Completely wonderful. – Cinderella

It’s time for college basketball’s annual ball, which means it’s time for America to fall in love with Cinderella all over again. There are 36 teams from the 26 non-power-conferences who have been invited to this year’s Big Dance, and while the slipper no longer fits for some of the more prominent of these schools, for the bulk of them, this is a rare opportunity to make a name for themselves on the grandest of stages.

This is the first of a two-part series taking a look at the NCAA Tournament prospects for all 36 teams hailing from The Other 26. We focus today on the TO26 teams in the South and West regions, grouping them into five rough categories, and, within each category, ordering them by their likelihood of advancing.

Regional Threats

These are the teams that have a credible chance of dancing all the way to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.

Can Kelly Olynyk Lead the Zags to Their First Final Four?

Can Kelly Olynyk Lead the Zags to Their First Final Four?

  • Gonzaga (#1, West) — It’s been five years since a TO26 team reached the top seed line. In 2008, Memphis rode its #1 seed all the way to the brink of a national championship, and Zags fans are hoping for the same — and perhaps more — this year. Gonzaga has no glaring weaknesses. They are led by an athletic, skilled frontcourt, the centerpiece of which is NPOY candidate Kelly Olynyk. They get steady guard play from Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, and David Stockton. If they’re to run into any trouble, it will likely be against a team that (1) sports a strong, athletic interior defense that can contain Olynyk, Elias Harris, and Sam Dower and pound the glass, and (2) can hit the three-point shot consistently, as Illinois did in beating them (Gonzaga’s defense allows a lot of three-point attempts). There are a fair number of teams that meet the first criteria in the West bracket, but not many with a lot offensive firepower from the three-point line or otherwise. In short, this is as good a shot as Gonzaga has ever had to make the Final Four. The eyes of the nation will be watching to see if they can make good on their promise.
  • Virginia Commonwealth (#5, South) – VCU is a popular sleeper pick for the Final Four, and there’s some merit to that notion, but here is the most important thing you need to know about them: They are 25-2 on the year (and 14-0 in A-10 play) against teams with a turnover rate over 18 percent. And they are 1-6 (and 0-5 in A-10 play) against teams with a turnover rate under 18 percent. The Rams’ first-round opponent, Akron, falls squarely in the former camp (20.8 percent), a problem for the Zips that will be exacerbated by the absence of their legally-troubled starting point guard, Alex Abreu. After that, things get a bit trickier for the Rams. Their two potential Third Round opponents, Michigan and South Dakota State, rank in the top 10 in the country in turnover rate. Those stats are perhaps somewhat inflated by the fact that both teams play in conferences that don’t feature a lot of pressure defenses, but if you’re looking for a point guard to lead you against such a defense, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than Trey Burke or Nate Wolters. It’s true that Michigan has struggled lately in general, and that if you look ahead to a potential match-up with Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, Havoc’s odds of success improve, but I’d caution against over-exuberance at the Rams’ chances given a potentially dicey Third Round contest.

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Bracket Prep: Akron, Louisville, Northwestern State, Montana, Oregon, Pacific & New Mexico State

Posted by BHayes on March 17th, 2013

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Saturday’s flurry of bid snatching wound down out West and left us with a near-complete picture of the puzzle. Just four automatic bids remain to be earned on Selection Sunday. As we have for each of the 31 automatic qualifiers to play their way into the Dance, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets this week.

Akron

Zeke Marshall And Akron Overcame Late-Season Drama To Reach The NCAA Tournament

Zeke Marshall And Akron Overcame Late-Season Drama To Reach The NCAA Tournament

  • MAC Champion (26-6, 16-2)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #49/#54/#62
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +10.7
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #12-#13

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. Last year’s Tournament darlings, the Ohio Bobcats, saw their shot at a return bid die on Saturday night, but don’t be surprised if their conquerors put some of that MAC mojo to use again this year. The Akron Zips turned in one of the most impressive performances of the day, comprehensively picking apart a good Ohio team en route to the MAC Tournament title. A pair of late regular season losses had recently killed the bubble talk surrounding the Zips, but let’s not forget how they entered the conversation in the first place. Keith Dambrot’s club ripped off 19 straight wins between December 15th and March 2nd in what still measures up as the longest winning streak in all of college basketball this season.
  2. Akron is as well-rounded a mid-major as you will find, but the Zips truest strength lies in a tougher-than-nails frontcourt. Demetrius Treadwell is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.4 PPG and leading rebounder at 7.9 RPG. His crafty, below-the-rim game may not be the sexiest, but it’s a great complement to the other important Zip on the interior, 7’0” Zeke Marshall. Marshall is the team’s leading scorer (13 PPG) and one of the nation’s leaders in FG percentage at 66%, but the big senior truly excels on the defensive side of the ball. He boasts the 4th best block percentage in the country (14.1%), and is, quite literally, a huge reason why Akron is one of the 20 best teams in the country in effective field goal percentage defense.
  3. The March suspension of point guard Alex Abreu (for drug charges) momentarily shook the team, but back-to-back good wins provide Keith Dambrot with some hope that his team has moved on, however much the loss of Abreu (10.3 PPG, 6.0 APG) hurts on the floor. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt has seen his minutes rise from 10 to 26 a game since the Abreu suspension, but the youngster will certainly not be asked to replicate Abreu’s production. The Zips have won with a balanced, team approach all season long, and the “next man up” attitude should come naturally for Betancourt and others. Dont overlook that even before that 19-game surge, the Zips beat Middle Tennessee State, pounded Penn State (by 25) and took OK State to overtime. Could a MAC team crash the Big Dance for the second straight season?

Louisville

A Decisive Second Half Surge Made The Cardinals Big East Tournament Champions For The Second Straight Season

A Decisive Second Half Surge Made The Cardinals Big East Tournament Champions For The Second Straight Season

  • Big East Champion (29-5, 17-4)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #3/#2/#1
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +19.2
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

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Summer School in the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 14th, 2010


Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Around The SLC:

  • Back To School: Former NBA lottery pick Corliss Williamson was hired as head coach of the University of Central Arkansas on March 12. Williamson was an NCAA All-American at the University of Arkansas and an NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons. Williamson coached the last three years at Arkansas Baptist.
  • Out With The Old, In With The New: Sam Houston State University hired assistant coach Jason Hooten to run the Bearkats’ operation after long-time head coach Bob Marlin fled to greener pastures as he accepted the job at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. ULL hired Marlin after he led SHSU to the NCAA Tournament, where the Kats lost a close game to Baylor. Marlin coached the Bearkats for 12 years.
  • UTSA Sticks With Thompson: The University of Texas-San Antonio decided its program is in good hands with Brooks Thompson at the helm and gave him a three-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Thompson has coached the Roadrunners for four years and checks in with a career mark of 37-51, but posted a winning campaign of 17-12 in 2009-10.
  • Called Up: The wait is finally over for Central Arkansas, which was notified in mid-July by the NCAA that the school achieved Division-I active membership after a five-year transition process.
  • Latching On: After concluding their basketball careers, former SLC players Patrick Sullivan (Southeastern Louisiana) and Kevin Palmer (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) both found their way onto NBA Summer League rosters in July. Sullivan played for the Memphis Grizzlies, while Palmer ran the court for the Washington Wizards.
  • Parlez Vous Francais: Former UT-Arlington guard Marquez Haynes signed a contract with Chalon in the French First Division to begin playing in 2010-11. Haynes averaged 22.6 points per game last year.

Corliss Williamson takes the reins at UCA, but is he ready for the challenge? (ucasports.com)

Power Rankings:

EAST

  1. Nicholls State (11-19, 7-9): The Colonels had an up-and-down season, but finished strong with a close 62-57 loss to SLC champion SHSU in the conference tournament. The big news for the Colonels is that they didn’t have a single senior on the roster, therefore, all five starters return, including first-team all-SLC pick Anatoly Bose (21.1 PPG). This will be a big jump for Nicholls, but they definitely have the offensive firepower to make a run.
  2. Southeastern Louisiana (19-12, 10-6): The Lions only lost one star player, but Patrick Sullivan is a huge loss. The 6’9 Sullivan led SELA with 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season and could find himself on an NBA roster when the season begins. The Lions will have their next six top scorers returning, but will have to find someone to man the middle. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by jstevrtc on January 16th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Current Standings as of Jan. 15, 2009:

EAST

  1. SE Louisiana 10-5 (2-0)
  2. Stephen F. Austin 11-4 (1-1)
  3. Nicholls State 5-10 (1-1)
  4. McNeese State 5-10 (0-1)
  5. Central Arkansas 6-10 (0-2)
  6. Northwestern State 5-10 (0-2)

WEST

  1. UT-San Antonio 12-3 (2-0)
  2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 7-8 (2-0)
  3. Sam Houston State 9-5 (1-0)
  4. Lamar 9-8 (1-1)
  5. Texas State 7-9 (1-1)
  6. Texas-Arlington 7-7 (0-2)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Sam Houston State University power forward Gilberto Clavell recently earned his second Player of the Week honor. The 6’7 junior scored 21 points and ripped down 12 rebonds in the Bearkats’ 66-57 Southland Conference opening win over Stephen F. Austin on Jan. 9.  Clavell and UTA’s Marquez Haynes are the only two players in the SLC to have won the award two times.

MID-MAJOR POLL

The Southland Conference is well represented in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll heading into league play. Texas-San Antonio, off to a 12-3 start, is ranked No. 22, while Sam Houston State University and Stephen F. Austin were listed among others receiving votes.

OFF TO A GOOD START

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UTSA, Sam Houston and Southeastern Louisiana are the four unbeaten teams in the conference after the opening week, while Central Arkansas, Northwestern State and UT-Arlington have yet to pick up a win.

TEAM UPDATES

EAST

SE LOUISIANA – Opened SLC play by thumping Lamar by 22 points, then eased past Northwestern State on the road, 70-64. We’ll see if the Lions can make a stand this week as they face SHSU at home, then travel to Lake Charles to face McNeese State.

STEPHEN F. AUSTIN – Things didn’t get off to a good start for the ‘Jacks as they were defeated in Huntsville, 66-57, in the 181st meeting between SFA and SHSU. Stephen F. Austin bounced back with a 15-point victory over Central Arkansas. They will take on Nicholls State in Thibodeaux, then host UTA.

NICHOLLS STATE – Played two close games to open its SLC season, beating Northwestern State by seven, then losing to UTSA by five. The Colonels will play SFA and Central Arkansas in the second week of conference play.

MCNEESE STATE – Got off to a bad start in conference action with a 78-69 loss to UTSA, but the Cowboys played well against the 12-3 Roadrunners. Nearly every stat was close, except McNeese let UTSA shoot it too well from the field (49%). The Pokes head west to face Lamar, then back to Louisiana for a showdown with Southeastern Louisiana.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS – Began SLC action 0-2 with a five-point loss to 2-0 A&M-Corpus and a 15-point defeat at the hands of SFA. The game with TA&M-CC was tied 51-51 with 1:50 to play, but the Islanders pulled away with great free throw shooting.

NORTHWESTERN ST. – Also started league play with a rocky start, losing to fellow Louisianans Nicholls State and Southeastern. The Demons led by six at the half against Nicholls State, but were outscored 43-30 in the second half. A&M-Corpus and Nicholls State are on tap next for the Demons.

WEST

UTSA – Still the class of the conference thus far. The Roadrunners beat two schools from Louisiana (McNeese and Nicholls) to begin at 2-0. UTSA is off to its best start since the 2001-20002 season. UTSA faces UTA in Arlington, then hosts A&M-Corpus.

TA&M-CC – Depsite being 5-8 heading in SLC play, the Roadrunners won against Central Arkansas and Texas State to open up 2-0. Kevin Palmer hit 11 of 12 free throws in the game and scored eights points down the stretch to give Corpus the win. The Roadrunners have a legitimate chance go 4-0 as they play Northwestern State and Lamar.

SHSU – Played only one SLC game, but came away with a big win over arch-rival SFA in Huntsville. Held the Lumberjacks to 12% shooting from beyond the arc, while SLC Player of the Week Gilbert Clavell scored 21 points to go with 12 rebounds. The Bearkats hit the road against 2-0 SELA, then host Texas State.

LAMAR – Managed to go 1-1 as it started conference play losing to SELA, then downed UTA. All things point to another 1-1 mark as the Cardinals face McNeese and A&M-Corpus in the coming week. Lamar got bad news this week when it was learned that senior forward Ashton Hall would require season-ending knee surgery.

TEXAS STATE –  Surprised some with a four-point victory on the road against UTA. The Bobcats then lost at home to A&M Corpus. TSU faces Central Arkansas at home and travels to SHSU.

UT-ARLINGTON – A disappointing 0-2 mark left the Mavericks in the cellar in the SLC West. UTA fell at home to Texas State and on the road to Lamar. Senior Marquez Haynes continues to be the only real scoring threat for the Mavs as he averaged 21.5 PPG in the losses. Senior forward Tommy Moffitt has missed eight games with a broken foot and will be out another three to four weeks.

BOXSCORE BREAKDOWN

SELA torched the nets at a 61% clip from the field and 56% from 3-point land in the win over Lamar.

Northwestern State shot a miserable 31% from the field in a loss to SELA, and point guard Mike McConathy continued to have problems putting the ball in the hole. McConathy was 1-10 against the Lions and is shooting only 29% for the year.

In the win over Central Arkansas, the Lumberjacks outrebounded the Bears 28-16 to offset a distinct free throw advantage by Central Arkansas, who shot ten more shots from the charity stripe.

Nicholls State had three players score 20 or more points in the victory over Northwestern State. Kellan Carter and Anatoly Bose played all 40 mintues, while Chris Iles logged 35 mintues.

A&M-Corpus Christi made 19 of 23 free throws, while Central Arkansas hit only three of 11 as the Islanders made away with the win.

The number 14 was lucky for UTSA against Nicholls State. Devin Gibson, Omar Johnson and Morris Smith IV all pitched in 14 points, while Terry Fields netted 13 in a 64-59 victory.

Junior Josten Crow was a big reason Sam Houston State beat SFA on Jan. 9.  At just 6’4, Crow scored 14 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Crow also dished out six assists and had three steals.

Lamar’s Donley Minor scored a career-high 16 points to help Lamar past UTA. Minor’s scoring average this year was 3.1 PPG before he went off for 16.

Junior Anatoly Bose picked up his seventh straight 20 point game as he scored 24 points in a loss to UTSA.

As conference play begins and defenses start to stiffen, individual scoring may plummet. Fred Hunter (Nicholls State) and Marquez Haynes (UTA) each scored 25 points in their respective games and had the high-point total during the first week of action.

Texas State and Texas-Arlington combined to shoot a dismal 23% (8-34) from 3-point land in Texas State’s win on Jan. 9.

In Southland Conference play, TAM-CC’s Kevin Palmer is on fire – from the free-throw line. The senior from Baltimore has made 23 of 27 shots (85%) from the charity stripe.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #20 – Southland

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2008

There is no RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference, but we’re still taking applications.

 

Predicted Order of Finish:

 

East

  1. Stephen F. Austin  (18-9, 12-4)
  2. Northwestern St.   (18-13, 10-6)
  3. SE Louisiana    (14-15, 9-7)
  4. McNeese St.    (12-17, 8-8)
  5. Central Arkansas  (10-19, 4-12)
  6. Nicholls St.   (8-21, 4-12)

West

  1. UT-Arlington  (19-10, 11-5)
  2. Lamar   (16-13, 11-5)
  3. UT-San Antonio   (15-13, 10-6)
  4. Sam Houston St.  (13-16, 7-9)
  5. Texas A&M-CC  (9-21, 5-11)
  6. Texas St.  (9-20, 4-12)

 

What You Need to Know (WYN2K).  The Southland Conference is an overlooked conference in an area of the country that doesn’t exactly embrace college basketball.  While the league has traditionally been cannon fodder for first-round high seeds in the NCAA Tournament, there are indications that may be changing.  Last year’s champion, Northwestern St., was a Cinderella entrant who got bombed by #1 Memphis, but in the period from 2005-07, the Southland champion was competitive with #2 seeds Oklahoma and Wisconsin, and of course everyone remembers the #14 NW St. upset victory over #3 Iowa in 2006.  In the early 2000s, the league was consistently rated among the bottom half-dozen conferences on an annual basis, but in the current environment with a solid few programs leading the way, the conference is now regularly in the 20-25 range.  It’s moving on up!

 

Predicted Champion.   Stephen F. Austin (#16 NCAA).   The ‘Jacks are jacked.  Coming off a 26-6 (13-3) 2007-08 campaign that led to an NIT appearance (SFA lost 80-60 to UMass), Danny Kasper’s squad returns four starters, including arguably the best two players in the league (Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley), from a withering defensive-minded unit that only allowed 56 ppg last year (on 39% FG shooting).  Last year’s team had NCAA written all over it, having won road contests at NCAA entrants Oklahoma and San Diego, until Northwestern St. upset SFA in the semis of the conference tournament - the ‘Jacks are loaded and will probably not be denied this time around.   

 

Others Considered. 

  • UT-Arlington.  As a #7 seed in last year’s conference tourney, UT-Arlington got hot at the right time and defeated three higher seeds en route to its first conference championship and NCAA appearance.  The Mavericks return two key starters, Rog’er Guignard and Brandon Long, but all eyes will be on BC transfer Marquez Haynes, a 6’3 guard who played starter’s minutes for the Eagles in 2006-07.  This team won’t be overlooked again.
  • Lamar.  Lamar should provide the biggest challenge for UT-Arlington in the West, as the Cardinals return significant experience in the form of nine returnees.  The key to Lamar’s success lies with PG Kenny Dawkins, last year’s Newcomer of the Year, who averaged 15/5 apg leading his team to a league-best 13-3 record.
  • Northwestern St.  We threw Mike McConathy’s team on here as a challenger simply because, no matter what personnel they lose from year to year, they always seem to find a way to remain competitive, having been to the last four conference title games (winning one).   The Demons’ style of play doesn’t depend on one or two players, so this year should be no different.   

RPI Boosters. 

  • Northwestern St. @ Indiana (11/15/08)
  • Stephen F. Austin @ Texas A&M  (11/18/08)
  • Northwestern St. @ LSU  (11/23/08)
  • Lamar @ Kentucky  (12/03/08)
  • Lamar @ Louisville  (12/08/08)
  • Texas Tech @ Lamar  (12/13/08)
  • Stephen F. Austin @ Arkansas (12/20/08)
  • UT-Arlington @ Baylor  (12/20/08)
  • Northwestern St. @ Oklahoma St.  (1/03/09)

Neat-O Stat.   The Southland, like many conferences is a twelve-team league with two divisions of six each (East and West).  Ok, no big deal, right?  Well, what’s strange about this setup is that the current alignment allows for Stephen F. Austin (East) and Lamar (West) to switch divisions every two seasons.  Since the current alignment began in 2006-07, this means this will be the first year of SFA in the East and Lamar in the West for a while.   The league made this arrangement for travel purposes, with seven Texas teams (v. five Louisiana/Arkansas teams), but can you imagine if the SEC did this – Florida and LSU switch sides every couple years?

65 Team Era.  The Southland is 4-24 (.143) in the era, but one of those wins was from the PiG in 2001, and two others are from Karl Malone’s #5 Louisiana Tech team back in 1985 (La Tech is no longer in the conference).  In other words, the league has had only one legit NCAA win since 1985, but oh, what a great one it was (see video below). 

Final Thoughts.  As mentioned above, the Southland appears to be a conference on the rise.  The big-conference team that gets pitted against SFA in the NCAAs this year (assuming they make it through the conference tourney unscathed) should really pay attention or they will get burned.  The conference has proven it can play with teams at the BCS level in a one-game scenario.  This was not always the case – from 1997-2004, the average margin of loss for a Southland team in the NCAA Tournament was 29 points.  Since then, it has been 12 (including a 1-pt win).  Who will be the next Iowa?

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