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2010 Sun Belt Conference
Itís the month of March which means March Madness is finally upon us, but before we get to the NCAA Tournament we must crown a champion in each conference, and this Sun Belt Tournament should prove to be one of the most competitive conference championships out there. Three teams were tied at the end of the year for the regular season title which just shows you how competitive this tournament should be. Troy, North Texas, and Middle Tennessee all finished the season at 13-5 in conference, so its only fitting that those three teams to have byes into the 2nd round while the rest of the Sun Belt fights it out for the right to move on to the next round. Letís take a look at the favorites to stamp their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
The North Texas Mean Green finished their season off with an 8 game winning streak and won 10 out of their last 11 games. This is a very well coached basketball team that has really taken on the team concept. There is no one player that you know you have to stop to beat this team, because North Texas does a great job of getting everyone involved. 4 out of their 5 starters average double digits and Forward Georgia Udufuwa is averaging 10 rebounds to go with his 11 points. Their ability to spread the ball around is the reason why the Mean Green will be very difficult to stop in this tournament.
Middle Tennessee started their season off to a slow 7-8 start, but they have really turned it on in the 2nd half of the season, and rode that momentum to a share of the regular season title. The 3 headed monster of Desmond Yates, Montarrio Haddock, and James Washington III has really helped this team finish their year off strong with all three players averaging double digits. The one glaring weakness we see with this team is the lack of production from their front court. Those three guards we mentioned should be able to keep this team in every game, but the lack of production or depth from their big men could really hurt their chances late in this tournament.
Troy comes into this tournament with the #1 seed and deservingly so in our eyes. The Trojans really seem to be the most balanced basketball team in the Sun Belt this season which should really help them in this tournament. Much like North Texas, Troy also has 4 players averaging double figures with their fifth man averaging 9 points. Troy Is led in scoring by their 3 guards much like Middle Tennessee, but the difference with Troy is they also have the production from their front court to compliment their backcourt. Troyís two big men average 10 and 9 points respectively with their Center Yamene Coleman also grabbing 8 rebounds a game. That well roundedness is the reason we believe they are the team to beat in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Another couple teams who should have a say in how this thing shakes out is Arkansas State and Western Kentucky who finished 4th and 5th in the regular season standings. Western Kentucky has everything you look for in a team to make a run. They are led by a Senior Guard in A.J. Slaughter averaging almost 18 points per game, and then have 3 Forwards who average double digits a game and 6-7 rebounds per game. This is a well rounded team that can give the Top 3 all they want if they play their game.
Arkansas State is one of two home state teams, and if the Red Wolves can get past their instate rival UALR all the Arkansas fans in that gym will be rooting on the Red Wolves which will give them a home court advantage. This team is coached by former LSU Head Coach John Brady who took the Tigers to a Final Four appearance, so you know this team will not be outcoached and Freshmen Guard Brandon Reed has really turned it on in the 2nd half of the season with two 30 point games, so if he can get in a rhythm and get the home state crowd behind this team they could ride that all the way to the NCAA Tournament.
It's March........expect some upsets!!
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