Last year Stephen F Austin provided efficiency nerds (including me) with a great low major story for the second straight year. Unlike the year before, however, Stephen F. Austin rewarded our love by winning the conference tournament, and knocking off VCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament as well. The team’s defensive KenPom ranking dropped from 9 to 102, but their offensive ranking rose from 214 to 38. They were also extreeeeeeeeeeeeeemely sloooowwwwwwww, taking more than 20 seconds per offensive possession. They were also really really good, losing only in the months of November and March.
The Lumberjacks are losing three Seniors, but are keeping two of their most important players, and are no doubt the favorite to repeat. Oral Roberts, who finished second offensively in the league, are off to the Summit League, so SFA should have an even easier walk to another NCAA bid.
Sam Houston St boasts a veteran lineup featuring one of the best rebounders in the country, but their struggles defensively probably doom them to not quite making it over the top in the Southland. Similarly, Corpus Christi and Incarnate Word should provide challenges, but ultimately this conference champ is easy to call.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Stephen F Austin
2. Texas A&M Corpus Christi
3. Sam Houston St
4. Incarnate Word
5. Northwestern St
6. McNeese State
7. Southeastern Louisiana
8. New Orleans
9. Nicholls St
11. Central Arkansas
12. Abilene Christian
13. Houston Baptist
All Conference Team
1. Jacob Parker, Stephen F Austin
2. Thomas Walkup, Stephen F Austin
3. Denzel Livingston, Incarnate Word
4. John Jordan, Texas A&M Corpus Christi
5. Michael Holyfield, Sam Houston State