- The Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be played March 3, 5-7 at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla. The top-four teams in the regular season received a bye into the quarterfinals March 5.
- No. 1 seed Texas State brings an eight-game winning streak into the tournament. The Bobcats lost to No. 4 seed and 2021 tournament winner Appalachian State in the quarterfinals.
- See the Sun Belt Tournament odds, seeds, bracket and predictions, below
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament will begin March 3 with four games at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla., the second year the event will be played in Pensacola after Covid-19 canceled the 2019 tourney. The bottom eight seeds compete in four play-in games to set the quarterfinals beginning March 5. The final is March 7.
No,. 1 seed Texas State (21-6) brings a nine-game winning streak (7-2 ATS) into the tournament. No. 5 seed South Alabama, which is DraftKings’ third choice (+400), must win four games to claim the title.
Georgia State has appeared in the last three championship games, winning in 2018-19, and has won three of the last six titles.
Sun Belt Tournament Odds
|#1 Texas State Bobcats||+250|
|#2 Georgia State Panthers||+350|
|#3 South Alabama Jaguars||+400|
|#4 Appalachian State Mountaineers||+550|
|#5 Troy Trojans||+700|
|#6 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||+1200|
|#7 Arkansas State Red Wolves||+2000|
|#8 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns||+2000|
|#9 UT Arlington Mavericks||+8000|
|#10 UL Monroe Warhawks||+10000|
|#11 Georgia Southern Eagles||+10000|
|#12 Little Rock Trojans||+30000|
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook on March 1.
The Sun Belt is 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament since Little Rock beat No. 5 seed Purdue 85-83 in the first round in 2016. Georgia State beat No. 3 Baylor 55-54 in the first round in 2015. The league winner does not figure to be higher than a No. 15 seed in the projected March Madness bracket.
Sun Belt Crowded at the Top
Because of Covid-19 cancellations and the inherent scheduling irregularities in a 12-team league that does not play a full round-robin, it can be difficult to determine the quality of the Sun Belt’s top group. Oddsmakers agree — the top four choices are +500 or better, and No. 5 Troy is +700.
Favored Texas State (12-3), which also won the regular season title in 2021, and defending champion Appalachian State (18-13, 12-6) tied for the league lead in wins in the regular season.
The Bobcats beat Appy State at home, but their only scheduled game against No. 3 seed Georgia State (15-10, 9-5) was canceled because of Covid.
South Alabama (19-10, 9-7) had a nine-game winning streak before league play began but was 2-4 against top four finishers Texas State, Appalachian State, Georgia State and Troy (19-10, 10-6). Troy swept Appy State and split with Texas State and South Alabama.
Georgia State’s Slow Start
The Panthers lost to South Alabama and Appalachian State in a disjointed 0-3 league start in which four of its first six scheduled games were canceled, including its only game against Texas State and a road game at Troy.
Georgia State was as hot as Texas State down the stretch, winning nine of its last 10 (8-1-1 ATS), losing only to Troy. It split with South Alabama. As hot as the Bobcats and Panthers are, they will be an afterthought when the NCAA Tournament odds are released.
Senior guards Corey Allen (13.5) and Kane Williams (12.4) lead the Panthers in scoring, but hot streak coincides with the return of senior forward 6’8 Eliel Nsoseme, who missed the first half of the season with a knee injury before returning Jan . 6.
Nsoseme is averaging 8.9 points and 9.4 rebounds in 25 minutes a game. He is second in the league in rebounding in conference games. Nsoseme was named to the 2021 all-tournament team.
Can Appy State Do It Again?
Defending champion Appalachian State had a remarkable run to its first tournament championship in 2021 after finishing 7-8 in the regular season.
Behind guard Michael Almonacy, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, the Mountaineers won four straight games, two in overtime. They beat higher seeds Texas State, Coastal Carolina and Georgia State to win it all.
Almonacy, who had 32 points in the 80-73 victory over Georgia State, is one of the Mountaineers’ four returning starters. Leading scorer Adrian Delph is averaging 17.3 points, second in the league.
Appy State was in the First Four a season ago, with astronomical odds to reach the Final Four.
This and That
Arkansas State features the player of the year in forward 6’7 Norchad Omier, who was third in the league in scoring (17.2), led in rebounding (12.0) and was second in blocked shots (2.1). He also was named the league defensive player of the year.
— Arkansas State (@ArkansasState) February 28, 2022
The Red Wolves split with Texas State and Appalachian State this season.
Texas State and Georgia State are in their best form, and as the top two seeds are on a path to meet for the first time season in the championship game. Georgia State. Both teams beat contenders South Alabama and Appalachian in their recent winning streaks. With appearances in the last three title games, Georgia State knows this spot well.
The pick: Georgia State (+350)
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