2018 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament Tips Off Wednesday

first_imgNo. 1 Southeastern Louisiana and No. 2 Nicholls earned a two-round bye and will start their campaigns Friday in the semifinals. No. 4 Sam Houston State will await the winner between the Privateers and the Islanders while No. 3 Stephen F. Austin will face the victor of the Cardinals and Bears. Thursday’s matchups are set for 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. The tournament opens up with No. 5 seed New Orleans taking on No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a rematch of last year’s championship. No. 6 Lamar and No. 7 Central Arkansas will hit the court at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to conclude the first round of competition. No. 6 Lamar – 19-12 (11-7 SLC) – First Game: Wednesday vs. No. 7 Central Arkansas, 7:30 p.m.Lamar is the No. 6 seed in the Southland tournament for the second consecutive season after posting a 19-12 overall record and an 11-7 league mark. The Big Red finished the season winning six of their last eight games but fell in its regular season finale against McNeese, 69-60. This is the Cardinals’ 17th trip to the Southland postseason, searching for their seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They are led by senior Colton Weisbrod, who was named to the All-Conference First Team for the second straight year. He ranked second in the league for rebounds (8.1) and 10th in the league in scoring (15.0). No. 2 Nicholls – 21-10 (15-3 SLC) – First Game: Friday vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30 p.m.Nicholls returns to the Southland Conference Basketball Tournament with a co-championship to its name. In his second season at the helm, Southland Coach of the Year Richie Riley leads the Colonels back to postseason action after earning their first title since 1998. He welcomed 10 newcomers to his team this season with senior guard Roddy Peters leading them all, averaging 19.7 points per game in league play. Peters, the Southland Newcomer of the Year and an all-conference first team honoree, paces a Nicholls offense that averaged 78.4 points per game against league opponents. The Colonel defense ranks first in field goal percentage defense with Stephen F. Austin (.417) in league games. No. 1 Southeastern Louisiana – 21-10 (15-3 SLC) – First Game: Friday vs. Winner Game 3, 5 p.m. After a thrilling home victory over Nicholls to close out the regular season, Southeastern Louisiana earned the No. 1 seed and a share of the 2017-18 regular season title. The Lions will look to Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-Southland selection Marlain Veal to send Southeastern back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history. Their lone appearance in the Big Dance came in 2005. In conference games, SLU led the league in scoring defense (65.7) and was third in field goal percentage defense (.420). The Lions head into Friday’s semifinal with a league-best winning streak of eight games. No. 7 Central Arkansas –16-15 (10-8 SLC) – First Game: Wednesday vs. No. 6 Lamar, 7:30 p.m.Southland Conference Player of the Year Jordan Howard brings Central Arkansas to its first consecutive trip to Katy and third overall since becoming eligible for the tournament in 2010-11. Howard led all Southland scorers in league action (26.4) and overall games (25.8), which ranks him third in the nation. Freshman center Hayden Koval earned a selection to the Southland All-Defensive Team after leading the league in blocked shots (3.1 per game), ranking sixth across all of Division I. The Bears are looking for their first win in the Southland postseason. KATY, Texas – The 2018 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament tips off Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. No. 4 Sam Houston State – 18-13 (12-6 SLC) – First Game: Thursday vs. Winner Game 1, 5 p.m.The Bearkats head into their 16th consecutive Southland Tournament, earning a first-round bye with a 12-6 league record. Led by first team All-Conference selection Chris Galbreath, Jr., Sam Houston State was top of the conference in rebounding margin (+2.7) with Galbreath ranking seventh individually in the league (7.3). Junior guard Josh Delaney ranked first in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.478) in Southland contests. Sam Houston will look to shake off a two-game losing streak after falling to No. 7 Central Arkansas and No. 3 Stephen F. Austin to close the season. The first two rounds and semifinal contests will stream on ESPN3, available on WatchESPN.com and ESPN apps. The championship will air live Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The radio broadcast of the title game will be on SportsRadio 610 KILT in Houston and Sirius-XM ESPN Xtra channel 81 nationwide. No. 3 Stephen F. Austin – 25-6 (14-4 SLC) – First Game: Thursday vs. Winner Game 2, 7:30 p.m.Entering the tournament at the No. 3 seed for the second consecutive season, Stephen F. Austin has its eyes set on returning to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years. The Lumberjacks claimed a conference-best three all-conference selections in junior guard Shannon Bogues, sophomore guard and forward Kevon Harris and junior forward TJ Holyfield. SFA led the league in field goal percentage offense (.488) in conference games and held league opponents to a league-best .417 clip with Nicholls. The Lumberjacks rank first in the nation for steals per game (10.1) and turnovers forced (20.39). No. 5 New Orleans – 14-15 (11-7 SLC) – First Game: Wednesday vs. No. 8 Central Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 5 p.m.The defending tournament champions walk into the Merrell Center as the No. 5 seed, gaining the seeding advantage in the two-way tiebreaker with No. 6 Lamar. The Privateers match up with familiar foe No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who UNO defeated in the 2017 championship 68-65 in overtime. Senior forward Makur Puou averaged 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds and pulled down 10 rebounds in the two of the final three games of the regular season. Wednesday will be New Orleans first game since last Wednesday after having an open date Saturday. No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 11-17 (8-10 SLC) – First Game: Wednesday vs. No. 5 New OrleansThe Islanders snuck into the tournament at the No. 8 seed, owning the three-way tiebreaker over McNeese and Abilene Christian. Led by senior guard Joseph Kilgore, who was a Second Team All-Conference pick, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will look to make another deep run in the Southland tournament. The Islanders won three of their last four games, most recently coming off a 92-87 win over Houston Baptist in which Kilgore downed a career-high 36 points.last_img