Southland Bracket Breakdown

The Southland Conference Tournament is traditionally overlooked and underrated but that doesn’t mean this league isn’t full of great teams on a yearly basis. This year is no different as the league has four Top-200 teams in the NET and a team in Abilene Christian that would likely be a 13/ 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A deep Nicholls team won the league title going 14-2 in league play and 17-6 overall. The third of that trio of great teams includes Sam Houston State, who rode Zach Nutall to a 13-3 record in league play. The rest of the league seems to be on a slightly different level but as you know by now, anything can happen in March.

Round One

8.Southeast Louisiana vs 9.McNeese State

This is a somewhat mixture in styles, as Southeast Louisiana would prefer to slow things down, while McNeese can speed things up. McNeese State has a deep roster that has nine players that play 16 or more minutes per game, they have the depth needed to make a run and stay fresh. Southeast Louisiana is considerably less deep but they have experienced guards in Keon Clergeot and Gus Okafor that can lift them to a win.

I’m rolling with the 8 seed in a game played in the 80’s, I trust playmakers in Clergeot and Okafor to get things done late in a close game.

Prediction: Southeast Louisiana 76 McNeese State 70

7.Incarnate Word vs 10.Houston Baptist

The second of two matchups between sub-300 ranked NET teams will see Incarnate Word go up against Houston Baptist. Incarnate Word has a guard in Keaston Willis who can fill it up offensively but he’s really about it. Houston Baptist isn’t stacked either, they’ve run a lot of different rotations this season, with only Pedro Castro being a consistent scorer.

In a game that probably will be relatively low-scoring, I think the smart pick is to go with the team with the best player and that is Keaston Willis and Incarnate Word.

Round Two

Prediction: Incarnate Word 71 Houston Baptist 63

5.New Orleans vs. 8.Southeast Louisiana

Starting with New Orleans, the league starts to really get better as they are a solid basketball team that went 8-7 in league play. Troy Green, Damion Rosser, and Derek St. Hilaire make up a good guard core that should be able to make this New Orleans team potentially dangerous in this tournament. I think this game could get ugly, give me New Orleans in a blowout.

Prediction: New Orleans 83 Southeast Louisiana 64

6.Lamar vs 7.Incarnate Word

We’ve talked about Keaston Willis and Incarnate Word, but they will need help to upset Lamar. Lamar runs a seven-man rotation, that seems to work well with itself. Davion Buster and Kasen Harrison make up a great guard duo, while Avery Sullivan is solid inside. All normal indications would point to Lamar here but Keaston Willis is fun, give me Incarnate Word to live to see another day.

Prediction: Incarnate Word 71 Lamar 70

Round Three

4.Northwestern State vs. 5.New Orleans

This is somewhat of a better team is the lower seed type game, as New Orleans is a team that ranks higher in many of the effeciency rankings. Northwestern State has a solid big man in Jamaure Gregg who can score well inside, while Trenton Massner is a solid guard, that said I will be rolling with New Orleans to win this game. Guards win in March.

Prediction: New Orleans 74 Northwestern State 67

3.Sam Houston State vs. 7.Incarnate Word

This game is a major mismatch on paper and has the makings of a blowout. Zach Nutall and Demarkus Lampley are elite scorers, Bryce Monroe is an energy bunny off the bench, and really the only thing Sam Houston State doesn’t have is inside depth, which won’t be an issue here. Give me Sam Houston State in a blowout.

Sam Houston State 76 Incarnate Word 67


1.Nicholls State vs. 5.New Orleans

Nicholls State will have a tough time playing New Orleans given that they will be in a rhythm at this point in the tournament. Ty Gordon and Andre Jones are elite-level scorers, while Najee Garvin is good inside. Nicholls is a really good team but they are also unlikely to win this game going away. I’ll take the favorites in a tight one, that could come down to a game-winning shot.

Prediction: Nicholls State 87 New Orleans 85

2.Abilene Christian vs. 3.Sam Houston State

For all intensive purposes and with all due respect to the other two semifinalists, this is the Championship game. Sam Houston State is an elite scoring team that can run anyone out of the gym, they are going to be tough to beat. Abilene Christian is not an elite shooting team but is by far the best defensive team in the league. Abilene Christian took a couple of losses in league play but both were close, they also were in the game against Texas Tech and Arkansas, two really good teams. Kolton Kohl is just too hard to guard because of his size, Joe Pleasant and Coryon Mason are good as well, plus this Abiline Christian is deep. Sam Houston State will keep this game close but give me Abiline Christian advancing.

Prediction: Abilene Christian 70 Sam Houston State 62

1.Nicholls State vs. 2.Abilene Christian

Championship time is here and one of these teams will have to end up winning the Southland title game, I think the choice is pretty clear. Abilene Christian is the best defensive team in the league by a mile and a half, Nicholls State could challenge for a little while but I think the depth, and defensive capabilities will lead to a double-digit win.

Prediction: Abilene Christian 63 Nicholls State 48

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