The Southland tournament’s first round is underway, with one game in the books. The 5th seeded McNeese St. Cowboys taking down the 8th seeded SE Louisiana Lions in overtime and will now face the Northwestern St. Demons. The other matchup today features the 6th seeded Nicholls St. Colonels against the 7th seeded New Orleans Privateers, with the winner to face the 3rd seeded Texas A&M-CC Islanders. There are really only three teams with a legitimate chance to win this in the Islanders, the Sam Houston Bearkats and the clear favorite Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The Bearkats have run through the division, minus of course splitting wins with the Islanders and being swept by the Lumberjacks. The Islanders however, as just mentioned have split wins with the Bearkats and are the only team in conference play to beat the Lumberjacks. Had the Islanders not have beaten them, the Lumberjacks would of been one of four teams to go undefeated in conference play.
As for the prediction, it’s got to be the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks winning this. I think the Islanders have best chance to beat them, but in order to win they have to go through whoever wins between the Privateers and Colonels, then the Sam Houston Bearkats. That’s just to get to the finals, in which they probably will have tired legs if they get there. The Lumberjacks will have a somewhat easy game in my opinion in the semifinals and then be in the finals, probably rested. They are the best team in the Southland conference, are one of the top offensive teams in the nation and have two game changers in Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker. With that said, I believe the Lumberjacks will win the Southland tournament and make their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.