Sun Belt Tournament Bracket Breakdown

The seeding is a bit strange the way it’s listed, by East & West, which is the Sun Belt divisions.

(4W) Arkansas State Redwolves Vs. (5W) Georgia Southern Eagles

Things haven’t been ideal for Coach Brian Burg; it’s been a struggle despite the squad’s talent.

Led by UAB transfer, Zach Bryant once seen to be a future star in the Conference USA prior to being dismissed from the team last season. Not much is different for Bryant, besides being at a new school, but he’s been fantastic for GASO. 

It’s worth noting; Eric Boone is questionable for the game due to a leg issue. Boone’s the 2nd leading scorer for Georgia Southern, a development worth keeping a tab on. Not only Boone is questionable, but Kaden Archie hasn’t played in a while either, and questionable for the game.

If both remain out of commission, look for Gedi Juozapaitis to play a significant role with his lights-out shooting ability.

Elijah McCadden already plays a major piece on the team, but if injuries continue to plague Coach Burg, McCadden taking on a more robust scoring role would be huge.

There’s significant issues regarding Georgia Southern’s offense due to turnovers & lack of consistent shooting. If that changes, there’s no doubt they can win a game here.

Things ended somberly for Arkansas State during the regular season after losing three consecutive ball games.

Freshman big-man Norchad Omier is putting on a tremendous show in Year one of his College Career, averaging a double-double with great shot-blocking ability. Here’s how Arkansas State fins a way to win the ballgame; Omier is the guy who leads them to victory.

Senior guard Marquis Eaton leads the team in scoring & assists this season. Eaton’s the heartbeat for this Arkansas State team.

PREDICTION: GASO 76, ARK ST 71

(3E) South Alabama Jaguars Vs. (6W) UL Monroe Warhawks

Here’s an example of teams that have yet to meet each other this season due to the division-schedule structure the Sun Belt opted to role with.

I’m keeping it short & sweet here; ULM is the worst team in the conference by any metric in existence.

There’s a lot of questions on the Warhawks roster, lack of scoring, among other things. Russell Harrison is the leading scorer but is shooting a subpar 33% overall. 

Elijah Gonzalez & Josh Nichols are the critical players for ULM due to their high-level shooting ability. 

I enjoy watching Richie Riley’s Jaguars squad quite a bit. When you have one of the elite players in College Hoops in Michael Flowers, it’s must-watch television. Flowers could be the conference’s POTY this season, averaging 20 PPG while shooting 38% from deep.

The scoring punch is unbelievable for South Bama; even outside of Flowers, you have John Pettway, Sam Iorio, Kayo Goncalves, Jamal West & Tyreke Locure, who all get buckets. There are significant issues on the defensive end for the Jags, but they’ll out-score you.

PREDICTION: South Alabama 82, ULM 70

(3W) Texas-Arlington Vs. (6E) Troy Trojans

Scott Cross’s Trojans are a solid defensive unit, but the offense is dreadful. That offense ranks 338th in offensive efficiency, shooting 27.8% from deep & turns the ball over a ton. That’s not a recipe for winning basketball games. Freshman Kam Woods also left the program earlier in the week.

UT-Arlington has some scorers on the roster, headed by Shahada Wells, a former JUCO Product that is as crafty as they come. 

Outside of Wells, his backcourt mate, David Azore, returned last week after a lengthy injury stint. Azore’s only played nine games in the 2020-21 season; that’s a significant addition to the team. Getting him back makes the Mavs a vastly different team.

Sam Griffin, Jordan Phillips & Patrick Mwamba all get buckets from deep. That’ll play a large role. If the Mavs can hit three’s odds are, they’ll beat a struggling Trojans squad.

PREDICTION: UT-Arlington 75, Troy 67

(4E) Appalachian State Mountaineers Vs. (5W) Little Rock Trojans

Since the Calender flipped to 2021, Little Rock is colder than Antarctica. In 2021, Little Rock, the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt, has lost 12 games, including an eight-game losing streak, snapped following a win over UL-Monroe last week.

Markquis Nowell left the program about a month ago, making things vastly more difficult for Little Rock.

Darrell Walker’s Trojans turn the ball over an obscene amount. That’ll need to change here.

UALR wins the game by using their bigs. Ruot Monyyong & Nikola Maric both are fantastic scorers inside, while Monyyong’s proven to be an elite defender. 

Ben Coupet & Marko Lukic are likely the key here because he is the lone consistent shooter on the roster.

App St loves airing it out from deep. They are vastly smaller than the UALR. App State shoots the ball often despite not making a ton at only 31% on the season. 

Justin Forrest will have to perform during this game for Coach Kerns. Forrest is the leading scorer for App St.

Adrian Delph is the key being the lone consistent shooter from long-distance.

PREDICTION: Little Rock 67, Appalachian State 63

2ND ROUND:

(5E) Georgia Southern Eagles Vs. (1E) Georgia State Panthers

During his short time coaching for Georgia State, Rob Lanier has proven to be a rising name in the industry.

Corey Allen’s putting on a show from deep this season, shooting 41% from three. Allen, paired with Justin Roberts & Kane Williams in the backcourt, next to Eilel Nsoseme & Jalen Thomas inside, makes for a dangerous squad.

This team even defeated Georgia Tech in the first game of the season.

Nsoseme & Thomas likely feast here due to the major size discrepancy.

PREDICTION: GA State 77, GA Southern 70

(2W) Louisiana Vs. (3E) South Alabama

The Cajuns play at a rampant pace leading to what’s no doubt going to be a scoring showdown. Cedric Russell is a certified bucket-getter posting 17.5 PPG this season on 41% from deep. Along with feeding Theo Akwuba inside makes things solid for Louisiana.

Mylik Wilson is a talented G/Wing; he could break out during the conference tournament. Let’s see how he does in this one.

There’s a real chance that Akwuba dominates here against a struggling South Alabama interior. It’s obvious that the Jags shooting the ball from the perimeter is the key in this one, like usual for Coach Riley.

Michael Flowers putting out a big performance is going to be significant here. Flowers is a guy that’s made for March; look for him to thrive in a huge spot.

PREDICTION: South Alabama 79, Louisiana 73

(3W) UT-Arlington Vs. (2E) Coastal Carolina

Cliff Ellis is one of the older coaches in the country but continues to churn out talented teams. It is spearheaded by a do-it-all guard, DeVante Jones postin, nog 20 PPG on the season.

The Chants play fast, shoot three’s & turn it over. They’ll have to hit the deep ones here to win the ball-game; look for De’Anthony Tipler & Tyrik Dixon to get some looks from deep.

They cannot make ill-advised decisions, limit the turnovers.

UTA struggles scoring inside; nobody on the team shoots above 45% from inside-the-arc. Shahada Wells has takeover ability, and that’s going to be significant here. Finding Sam Griffin on the perimeter will be huge here. He gets buckets.

PREDICTION: CC: 82, UTA 76

(1W) Texas State Bobcats Vs. (5W) Little Rock Trojans

Things looked rough after Danny Kaspar was fired for making Racial remarks throughout the years. Having a coach fired on short-notice, then a young coach that’s never been a HC getting the interim tag in Terrance Johnson. That interim tag won’t last much longer because Coach Johnson’s been nothing short of tremendous in guiding this team to winning the conference regular-season championship.

The Bobcats pride themselves on defense but shoot the ball at an elite-clip of 39% from deep. Mason Harrell, Caleb Asbury & Isiah Small all shoot over 40% from three, along with Alonzo Sule getting buckets inside.

TXST is slightly smaller & more athletic than Little Rock, making Ruot Monyyong and Nikola Maric both potentially putting out big showings.

PREDICTION: TXST 67, Little Rock 62

(1E) GA State Vs. (3E) South Alabama

These two met for a fun three games stretch during the regular season. South Alabama stole a game against GAST on the road but lost both games hosted in Alabama.

Eilel Nsoseme & Jalen Thomas feasted during the trio of games with the major size discrepancy. If Coach Lanier is able to gameplan to get the bigs the ball, that’s how they can win.

When South Alabama’s hitting their shots, they’re tough to stop. USA won eight of the regular season’s final ten games, continuing to prove how lethal they can be when clicking.

PREDICTION: USA 80, GAST 76

(2E) Coastal Carolina Vs. (1W) Texas State Bobcats

These two didn’t met during the regular season, but it’s going to be a fun matchup. 

Terrance Johnson is going to pump up the defensive intensity, while Mason Harrell, Caleb Asbury & Isiah Small get it rolling from three. If Texas State handles the pace of the game, rather than CCU dictating the pace, things weigh in Bobcats’ favor.

DeVante Jones can take any game over with his elite scoring & passing ability.

PREDICTION: TXST 68, CCU 65

FINALS:

(1) Texas State Vs. (3) South Alabama

Both teams play relatively slower paces, making this for an interesting game, but both teams shoot it from anywhere.

The Sun Belt’s been tight the entire season. Isiah Small & Alonzo Sule getting the ball inside is paramount in this hypothetical matchup due to the interior struggles of South Alabama.

Isiah Small has proven to be a significant piece of the team all season, look for him to play a major part if TxSt is able to win the game.

Michael Flowers more often that not is scoring, but if he isn’t, guys like John Pettway, Jamal West & Sam Iorio are three vital pieces that don’t get talked about often.

Texas State last made the dance back in 1997, while South Alabama last appeared on the brightest stage in College Sports back in 2008.

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