Abilene Christian is a 25-6 team with a NET rating around 150, lower than Vanderbilt. That’s kind of all you need to know about this league. With strength of schedule ratings deep into the 200’s, this isn’t a very good league and you’ll probably look up at TruTV sometime next weekend and see the eventual champ losing to Duke or Kentucky by 40. But, those are problems for another day, for now we just need to figure out who’s going to be that sacrificial lamb.
When and Where: March 13th-16th at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
Defending Champ: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Who’s Good: Abilene Christian
Who’s Sneaky: Sam Houston, Lamar
Who Stinks Out Loud: Incarnate Word might be the worst team in D1 at the moment, how they got a conference win is beyond me.
Coolest Team Nickname: University of Central Arkansas Bears. Many teams use an official alternate nickname for the women’s teams, but I’m not sure there is one as patronizing and hilarious as the Central Arkansas SUGAR BEARS. It’s like a catcall and I can’t stop laughing at this.
Seeding and rules: Only the top eight get in, with a miniature version of the WCC/SunBelt long drawn out multiple-bye system. Top two get double-byes, three and four just get a single bye.
Multi-Bid League: Not a chance, win or go home.
Breakdown: I made a few Southland bets on the season, but I’m not sure if I could have named a team if you put me on the spot, all the small southern leagues run together like the Horizon/MVC/OVC do for me up North. I felt bad not knowing much about the conference, so I honestly just googled each of the top three teams by odds and skimmed some news and stats to feel better prepared.
Abilene Christian: Their coach won coach of the year, but they also just kicked some players off the team.
Sam Houston: Has the Southland Player of the Year in senior guard Cameron Delaney and they shoot the hell outta the 3-ball
Lamar: Forces turnovers at a nice clip, but also turns it over quite a bit. They kind of got unlucky having to play an extra game losing a three way tiebreaker. The odds seem to think they’re better than New Orleans.
My Pick(s): This was a toughie, as my numbers rate SHS and AC almost identically. Not really knowing Texas geography, I thought about maybe just betting on whoever’s campus was closer to Katy (it’s Sam Houston by a lot, by the way), but that didn’t feel very scientific. So, I’m going to also say that I think they have the easier side of the bracket, they beat Abilene in both meetings this season, and have the conference player of the year. Let’s go Bearkats.
Sam Houston State +145 (0.70x) Bovada