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Texas State Favored in Sun Belt Conference Tournament Opening Odds

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Mar 30, 2021 · 8:18 AM PDT

  • The Sun Belt Conference Tournament runs from March 7-15 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans
  • Little Rock is the No. 1 seed and South Alabama is the No. 2 seed in the tournament — both teams get a a bye into the semifinals
  • See the Sun Belt Conference Tournament odds, picks and predictions below

The Sun Belt Conference Tournament tips off at on-campus sites Saturday, March 7 and runs through next weekend. The semifinals and championship game will take place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans March 14 and 15.

Little Rock is the No. 1 seed and South Alabama is the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Both teams get a bye into the semifinals. Georgia State beat Texas-Arlington in the last two conference tourney title games to earn the Sun Belt’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

2020 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Odds

Team (Seed) Odds
Texas State (3) +200
Arkansas Little Rock (1) +250
Georgia State (4) +275
South Alabama (2) +450
Georgia Southern (5) +1500
Texas-Arlington (7) +2200
Appalachian State (6) +3000
Arkansas State (9) +8000
Coastal Carolina (10) +8000
Louisiana (8) +9000

Odds taken March 6th

The closest any Sun Belt team came to touching the 2020 National Championship odds this season was back on Nov. 15. That’s when the conference tourney’s No. 3 seed, Texas State, lost 72-63 to the No. 3-rated team on KenPom, Baylor. Other than that, the Sun Belt is the 14th ranked conference on KenPom  — mostly doing its work in the shadows out of the national spotlight. But one lucky team will get to dance come March 15. Which will it be? Let’s analyze and make a prediction.

Sun Belt Conference Tournament Bracket

Trojan Horse

While No. 1 seed Little Rock may have lost to Georgia State in the regular season finale Tuesday night, the Trojan program has enjoyed some recent success.

YouTube video

It was only four years ago that Chris Beard — in his one and only season at the school — went 30-5 and knocked off  Purdue in a Midwest Region 5-12 matchup. Beard moved on to Lubbock from there and has become one of the young coaching stars in college basketball at Texas Tech.

But the school’s appearance in the NCAA’s that year was solidified by a 70-50 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the conference tourney. Don’t be surprised if this year’s bunch, led by head coach Darrell Walker and leading scorer Markquis Nowell, get back to the Big Dance.

Streaking Jaguars

No. 2 seed South Alabama has won eight in a row, including Tuesday’s momentum-boosting win over Texas State 58-54.

The Jags feature only four players scoring in double-figures on their roster, led by senior forward Josh Ajayi. But since losing three straight in late January by a combined nine points, Richie Riley’s team has been rolling. And while this program may not have the pedigree of a Little Rock or a Georgia State (the last time South Alabama advanced to the NCAA Tournament was during the 2007-08 season), I like their moxie. And having that bye into the semifinals is definitely helpful.

Then There’s Texas State

The No. 3 seed Bobcats may have gone down Tuesday at the hands of the aforementioned South Alabama Jaguars — in a game that saw the Sun Belt’s leading scorer, Nijal Pearson, only score seven points — but there’s a reason why Texas State is the highest-rated team (No. 98) in the conference on KenPom.

Not only did this team face Baylor this season, they’ve also played (and lost to) Houston by narrow 68-60 margin. You have to figure Pearson will be motivated to rebound from a disappointing performance against South Alabama with a big first game in the conference tourney.

Sure, any other team (i.e. Georgia State) could make a run in the Sun Belt Tournament. Cinderella’s are what makes this time of the year so fun. But I like Little Rock  to win two games and clinch the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Pick: Little Rock +250

SBD’s NCAA conference tournament coverage:

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