I’m using my ratings and Bill James’ log5 formula to estimate the chances of each participating team advancing to a particular round of its conference tournament.
Sun Belt Conference
Location: New Orleans (Lakefront Arena)
Dates: March 13-16
Chance of bid thief: zero
Current kPOY: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
Qtrs Semis Final Champ 1 Georgia St. 100 100 77.0 56.5 3 La. Lafayette 100 74.0 48.3 19.3 2 W. Kentucky 100 100 41.1 11.1 4 Arkansas St. 100 67.4 18.1 9.2 6 UT Arlington 61.2 17.9 7.9 1.8 8 Troy 51.0 16.8 2.6 0.9 5 UALR 49.0 15.7 2.3 0.8 7 La. Monroe 38.8 8.0 2.7 0.4
The Sun Belt has adopted the double stepladder bracket and moved its tournament from Hot Springs, Arkansas to New Orleans. They have also trimmed the field from all-inclusive to just eight teams. This makes it marginally more difficult for third-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette, who closed the season by winning eight of their last ten, which included two road losses by a total of six points. The Ragin’ Cajun’s also have the league’s most exciting player in point guard Elfrid Payton (no offense to Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter).
Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper is a stunning 8-0 in Sun Belt tourney action. The Hilltoppers have improbably represented the Sun Belt the last two seasons as a seven- and six-seed in the conference tourney. This year they are a two-seed and the format helps them out a bit more than it would in previous seasons, requiring just two wins for a title. Even with that, a three-peat figures to be improbable.