Southland Conference (conference rank: 27th)
March 8-11
All games at Katy, Texas.
kPOY: Rashawn Thomas, Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Regular season champ: New Orleans (preseason #297 / 7th Southland, current #179)
Overachiever: New Orleans
Underachiever: Stephen F. Austin (preseason #124, current #232)

There couldn’t have many regular-season champions more surprising than New Orleans this season.

The Privateers took the regular season title in the Southland after being picked for ninth or tenth in the preseason poll.1 New Orleans brought back just about every from last season’s squad. But that team finished outside the top 300, as UNO had for each of coach Mark Slessinger’s first four seasons.

So there was really no reason to expect good things from the Privateers this season. Even in the absence of any roster information, there’s not much reason to expect New Orleans to win many games. The Privateers hadn’t had a winning conference season since 2004 and hadn’t won a regular-season title since 1997. They hadn’t won a regular-season title outright since 1993. So it was a pretty special season.

The Southland only takes the top eight eligible teams and runs a double-stepladder. The top seven teams rank between #179 and #232 so any team but Central Arkansas is good enough to win this. But the tournament structure gives a nice boost to the higher-seeded teams.

                           Qtrs Semis Final Champ
 1 New Orleans              100   100  60.4  35.2
 2 Texas A&M Corpus Chris   100   100  55.1  26.2
 4 Houston Baptist          100  61.7  26.6  13.8
 3 Stephen F. Austin        100  48.3  21.2   8.9
 6 Lamar                   50.4  26.0  12.0   5.2
 5 Sam Houston St.         68.5  30.0  11.2   5.1
 7 Southeastern Louisiana  49.6  25.7  11.7   5.0
 8 Central Arkansas        31.5   8.3   1.8   0.5

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1. Request to the Southland commissioner’s office: Just combine the SID poll and the coaches poll into one, please.