2019 Sun Belt Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Georgia State Still the Team to Beat
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Georgia State guard D’Marcus Simond
- The 2019 Sun Belt conference tournament begins on Tuesday, March 12 when South Alabama hosts Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe hosts Appalachian State on their respective campuses.
- The rest of the tournament will take place in New Orleans, where the top two seeds won't have to play until the semifinals on Saturday.
- Top seed Georgia State (+225) enters as the betting favorite and will benefit from one of those two coveted triple byes into the semis.
The Sun Belt Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 12 when South Alabama hosts Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe hosts Appalachian State on their respective campuses. The rest of the tourney will take place in New Orleans, where the top two seeds won’t have to play until the semifinals on Saturday.
We have seen some wildly unexpected results in the Sun Belt tourney over the past decade. Four teams that played in the first round have gone on to win the championship, despite the top seeds getting multiple byes. Most recently was 2017, when No. 6 seed Troy went dancing. They call it the Fun Belt for a reason.
Let’s take a look at this year’s tournament favorite and a potential sleeper in the futures market.
2019 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: Top 10 Sun Belt teams (Troy and Little Rock DNQ)
- Format: Top 4 seeds receive a bye
- When: March 12-17
- Where: Campus sites for R1 then New Orleans, La.
- How to Watch: ESPN+, ESPN2
- Defending Champion: Georgia State
Who Should Win?
The defending champion Georgia State Panthers (+220) are favored to win the league tournament — with Georgia Southern (+240) representing its biggest challenge.
However, Ron Hunter’s bunch swept the regular season series, exposing the Eagles inside the arc on both occasions. Georgia Southern has given up the second-highest 2-point scoring rate (51.3%) in conference play, which Georgia State doesn’t excel at (Sun Belt’s second-lowest 2-point scoring percentage).
But Hunter and his staff showcased their coaching prowess, deterring from their premier strength to avoid the Eagles’ second-ranked 3-point defense (31.5%). The 6-foot-3 Kane Williams is one of the more underrated guards around in attack mode, generating the 10th-highest free-throw rate in the country (75.0%). He exposed Georgia Southern in both affairs to the tune of 21 points per game.
Williams’ scoring touch showcases Georgia State’s potent depth. The Panthers have five players who average at least 11.4 points per game — led by D’Marcus Simonds (18.9 ppg), one of the best point guards in mid-major basketball. The Panthers arsenal, which manufactures the 13th-highest 3-point clip (38.9%) across college basketball, will continue to give Sun Belt teams fits this tournament.
It’ll either face Texas State or one of three other teams in the conference semifinals, since it possesses the highly-coveted triple-bye. I expect the Panthers to return to March Madness –where they pulled in a recent upset over Baylor in the 2015 NCAA Tournament (when Hunter infamously fell off his seat on the sidelines).