2019 Southland Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Will Top Seeds Keep Dominating?

2019 Southland Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Will Top Seeds Keep Dominating? article feature image

Raymond Carlin-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cameron Delaney

  • The eight-team 2019 Southland Tournament will tip off with two first-round matchups on Wednesday, March 13, in Katy, Texas.
  • The top two seeds, Sam Houston State (+120) and Abilene Christian (+125), will benefit from double byes into the semifinals.

In one of the stranger conference tournament setups, the Southland only takes the top eight of the 13 teams in conference. Of those eight teams, the No. 3 and 4 seeds get a single bye while the top two seeds get a double bye into the semifinals.

Since this format was implemented in 2013, none of the four teams that played on the first day have won the Southland title. In fact, when Stephen F. Austin won last year as a No. 3 seed, it marked the first time a seed other than 1 or 2 won the tournament.

The deck is heavily stacked in favor of the top two seeds, in this case Sam Houston State at +120 and Abilene Christian +125. Defending champion Stephen F. Austin has benefited from this draw a number of times in the past, as it has won five of the past six Southland titles. However, it won’t be adding another banner this season as the Jacks failed to qualify as the No. 9 seed.

2019 Southland Tournament Odds, Format

  • Who: Top 8 (of 13) Southland teams
  • Format: Top two seeds get a double bye; 3-4 seeds get single bye
  • When: March 13-16
  • Where: Katy, Texas
  • How to Watch: ESPN+, ESPN2
  • Defending Champion: Stephen F. Austin

Who Should Win?

As I said before, this tournament heavily rewards the top two seeds, which have to be considered the likeliest tournament champs.

I personally give the nod to top seed Sam Houston State, which swept Abilene Christian during the regular season. The Wildcats lost the most recent meeting in a double overtime thriller where they shot 39% from three, but lost to the Bearkats because of rebounds and free throws.

If these teams meet for a third time in the conference final, the line would be right around a PK. Sam Houston State ranks first overall in the conference in effective field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and blocks. The Bearkats also hold a bigger advantage on Abilene Christian in free throws and steal percentage.

There’s not much separating the two tops seeds, but I think the Delaney brothers (Josh and SLC player of the year Cameron) would find a way for a third time.

Potential Sleeper

Lamar +600

Lamar will try to become the first Southland seed lower than a No. 3 to win this tournament, so it’s certainly a tough ask. But if you’re looking for a Southland sleeper, I think you have to look at the red-hot Cardinals.

The advanced stats within conference play are there for Lamar,  starting with its rebounding. It ranks second during league play in offensive rebounding percentage and opponent rebounding percentage. Lamar actually ranks 13th nationally in offensive rebounding rate, so expect plenty of second chance opportunities.

It also has a veteran backcourt of senior Nick Garth and junior New Mexico transfer Jordan Hunter. Throw in the second-best Offensive Efficiency during the Southland slate and you can see how it has the formula on offense to make a run.

It also plays an aggressive man-to-man defense that ranks in the 90th percentile nationally in points per possession allowed in the half court, per Synergy Sports.

Lamar also comes in red-hot, having won eight straight games leading up to the conference tournament. One of those victories came against its first round opponent Houston Baptist by a score of 110-75. It lost the first meeting on the road in overtime.

If the Cardinals get by Houston Baptist, they would face New Orleans. They lost their only meeting with the Privateers, but that loss came on the road in overtime.

Lamar also defeated its potential semifinal opponent and top seed Sam Houston State during that stretch. It should make the two-hour trip north Katy, Texas full of confidence.

And finally, Lamar has a top-50 team nationally in experience and more importantly, ranks 53rd in the country in bench minutes. That stat is essential since it would need to win four games in four days, including one in the semifinals against No. 1 seed Sam Houston State, which would be waiting after a double bye.

The tournament format makes this a really difficult path, but Lamar has some things working in its favor to make Southland history.

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