Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014/15 Sun Belt Women's Basketball Conference Predictions

First I did the men's basketball predictions, so naturally it is the women's time.

The coach's poll is as such:
1. Arkansas State (9) - 118 pts
2. UALR (2) - 112 pts
3. Texas State - 93 pts
4. Georgia State - 82 pts
5. Troy - 70 pts
6. UL Lafayette - 64 pts
7. South Alabama - 49 pts
8. Appalachian State - 47 pts
9. UT Arlington - 44 pts
10. Georgia Southern - 27 pts
11. UL Monroe - 20 pts

1 UALR (7-2). They've looked the most impressive to me. They have wins against some name teams like LSU, Oklahoma and Memphis (though these schools didn't get their names from women's basketball. The two losses to South Dakota State and Tulane give me a little pause, but at least the wins were DI and not Southland or Southwestern Athletic Conference teams. They are third in the conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage and fourth in rebounding. They play a slow grinding game that isn't fun to watch, but is successful when the record is concerned.

2 Arkansas State (5-5). They don't have the winning record like UALR, but they did play one of the strongest schedules in the SBC, which should get them prepped for conference. Four of the losses were on the road. A 10-point defeat to Mississippi St (15-0), 11-point setback at Colorado (7-3), 15-point differential to Ohio State (8-5) and a 14-point loss at Kansas (9-4) aren't bad losses. Even the six-point home loss to 12-2 Florida Gulf Coast looks good. Plus they still have the preseason player of the year in Aundrea Gamble. Had they won any of the these games, I would have put them in the first spot.

3 Louisiana-Lafayette (8-1). The most deceiving of the records. It seems every year they play a weak schedule, three SLC schools, two SWAC teams and two non-Division I wins. They at least looked somewhat respectable in a home loss to Mississippi St, 66-51. Jaylin Gordon leads the team in scoring at just over a 15-per clip. The team averages a little less than nine better than their opponent's average. I may regret it, but as of now, I'm going to go out on a limb and say they belong here.

4 Georgia State (5-4). All four losses total 19-points, but losing to Liberty, Kenesaw State, Morehead State and La Salle collectively doesn't sit well with me, especially when it gives the vocal Liberty-to-the-Sun-Belt contingent a little more ammo. But they weren't embarrassed in any game though they didn't excel in any either. Had they done the latter, three and four would have been switched.

5 UT Arlington (6-3). I want to put them higher, but they just aren't proven yet...and they are young, which can create their own problems. Still, they have looked really good this year, even in the losses. They've won through defense and rebounding, which is a universal formula for success, as that is one of the many statistical categories they lead the SBC in. The SBC's #1 recruiting class, coach Gerlich's first at UTA have produced a couple of freshman of the year candidate's, but I'll reserve a higher place once it has been earned on the court. I do know the coach's poll severely underestimated this bunch and they finish a lot higher than ninth.

6 Appalachian St (4-4). They play one more non-conference game when everyone else opens conference play tonight, but two of the four losses were to ranked teams and another was to a 9-5 Furman team. The one-point home loss to 3-8 Radford hurt them a little, but overall, they have beaten who they were supposed to. Maryah Sydnor averages over 20 points a game and is joined Katie Mallow at almost 15. Sydnor is at almost eight boards a game as well. That alone tells me this team is competitive but through her.

7 Texas State (5-4). I've been quite disappointed by what I have seen from Texas State. They have two non-DI wins (including a five-pointer against Texas A&M-Commerce), so are actually sub-.500 against the teams that matter in the RPI. They played Texas Tech tough in a road, overtime loss, but dropped a stinker in a home loss to Houston Baptist. That alone dropped them a spot in my rankings.

8 Troy (5-4). I put them here thanks in large part to a home loss to 4-7 Savannah State, one of the poorest schools in Division I. They have one of the lowest budgets and are non-competitive in every sport they play...and they beat Troy. No SBC team should ever lose to the Lady Tigers in any sport...ever. That said, there have been only two games, one win and one loss, that has been by more than ten points. If the Savannah State game was an aberration, they will finish several spots higher. They can score, but they can't stop anyone from doing the same. If anyone plays good D against the Trojans, they will have a long game.

9 Georgia Southern (3-6). One of three SBC teams with a losing record and the first of them to appear on this list, the Lady Eagles are 2-6 against DI teams. I'm generally one of Georgia Southern's biggest proponents and advocated their admission to the SBC, but five of the six losses were by double digits and they just don't look competitive to this point.

10 South Alabama (3-6). Like the men's squad, the Jaguars have fallen in recent years. 1-6 against DI competition, of which the one was a SWAC school. A loss to perennial doormat Nicholls State is inexcusable. They have to show a lot more than they have to make the conference tournament.

11 Louisiana-Monroe (4-5). Three non-DI wins, a three-point win in Monroe to McNeese State and the rest are double-digit losses. Unless they do something they didn't do in non-conference, the coaches got this one right.

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