College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 Southland Betting Preview
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrease Terrell (Nicholls State)
The Southland Conference has undergone severe changes in the past six months.
After losing four teams just a season ago, the Southland returns to double-digit members this year, as Lamar is back after a short-lived tenure in the WAC.
Northwestern State is the only program with a new head coach heading into the season.
Last year saw the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders make their first NCAA tournament since 2007. Can they make it two in a row?
2022-23 Southland Futures Odds
|Texas A&M Commerce||+800|
Nicholls State Colonels
|ATS Record ’21-22||13-16 (44.8%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||16-12-1 (57.1%)|
The Colonels have been regular season champions for the past two seasons, and have won 21 or more games in each of the past three seasons.
That’s not bad for the second-youngest coach in Division I, Austin Claunch.
They look to take the next step and get to the NCAA tournament this year, but that may be easier said than done since they have to replace four starters.
The departures for the Colonels include Southland Player of the Year Ty Gordon and all-conference selections Devante Carter and Ryghe Lyons.
The Nicholls State defense has consistently been among the best in the conference, and looks to be even better this year with the addition of Josh LeBlanc Sr. from UAB.
Nicholls State is the team to beat in the Southland.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders
|ATS Record ’21-22||20-11 (64.5%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||18-12-1 (60%)|
Last year’s conference champions return more minutes than any other team, including nine of their top 11 players.
Last season’s 23 wins were more than their previous two seasons combined.
What the Islanders did in the paint a year ago was nothing short of incredible. Despite ranking 334th in height, they were able to finish top-20 nationally in offensive rebounding, per KenPom.
Corpus Christi was known for pushing the pace last season, but that ultimately led to issues when it came to turnovers. The Islanders will need to clean that up if they want to repeat.
With the return of a majority of last season’s production and transfers off the bench who stand to make them an even deeper team, the Islanders are positioned to make another run at the Southland title.
Northwestern State Demons
|ATS Record ’21-22||13-15-1 (46.4%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||17-11-1 (60.7%)|
The Demons begin the season with a new head coach for the first time in over 20 years. Corey Gipson steps in and is looking to bring Northwestern State its first winning campaign in seven years.
Gipson will have just one starter from last year’s squad on the team, and that’s Cedric Garrett, an exciting three-and-D player.
However, Garrett’s position as a starter for the Demons may be in jeopardy due to the addition of some high-level transfers. The Demons bring in a trio of transfers from Missouri State, and that group of players should make a splash with their familiarity on the floor.
Northwestern State led the Southland in 3-point shooting a season ago. However, it was also one of the worst on the defensive end.
Expect both trends to continue this year — and for overs to once again be profitable.
New Orleans Privateers
|ATS Record ’21-22||15-13-1 (53.6%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||17-12-0 (58.6%)|
The Privateers have finished with a winning record in five of the past six seasons.
In 2021-22, they went on a nine-game win streak to end the year and sat atop the conference right up until the last game of the regular season.
Last season’s 18 wins were more than the previous two years combined and despite losing a pair of leaders — Derek St. Hilaire and Troy Green — expectations are high for New Orleans.
The Privateers return a productive frontcourt in Simeon Kirkland and Tyson Jackson. Those two — paired with Jordan Johnson, a long-range threat from Denver, and other transfers — can get the Privateers back to the top.
Texas A&M-Commerce Lions
|ATS Record ’21-22||N/A|
|O/U Record ’21-22||N/A|
The Texas A&M-Commerce Lions are making their maiden voyage into Division-I basketball. But don’t overlook the Lions and their potential in the Southland, even if they aren’t eligible for postseason play.
Much like Bellarmine a few years ago, the Lions make the jump at possibly the perfect time. Texas A&M-Commerce has had recent success in both Division II and against Division-I talent. In fact, it took down UTSA in exhibition play a season ago.
A&M-Commerce enters Division I with four rotational players and five players from a season ago.
At the D-II level, the Lions were known as one of the best defenses around. Their defensive scheme should remain the same, but it will be interesting to see how it transitions to D-I competition.
Rebounding will be the Lions’ biggest challenge in Division I, as they weren’t very good at the Division-II level, and nothing jumps off the page to present any overnight change.
I’m not saying Commerce is going to win the Southland, but the team won’t be an exhibition game for anyone.
Southeastern Louisiana Lions
|ATS Record ’21-22||14-15-1 (48.3%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||16-13 (55.2%)|
The Lions have improved in every year of David Kiefer’s three-year tenure. After claiming 19 wins a season ago, their next goal is clear — winning the Southland title.
However, many believe the Lions are poised to take a step back, as they are faced with replacing all five starters from a season ago.
Their one returning rotational player is Roscoe Eastmond. He was not eligible to play until December of last season, but when he was in the lineup, the Lions went 15-8.
The Lions played at one of the fastest paces in country last season, and I expect that to be prevalent once again this year.
Unfortunately, so will their inability to rebound.
Southeastern Louisiana likely finds itself fighting in the middle of the pack in the Southland.
The Deep Southland
Incarnate Word Cardinals
|ATS Record ’21-22||13-16-0 (44.8%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||15-13-1 (53.2%)|
Incarnate Word originally planned to leave the Southland, but changed its mind over the summer.
The Cardinals’ offense was one of the best in the conference a season ago, but it didn’t matter much with their struggles on the defensive end.
They come into this year losing a majority of that offensive output, as a trio of starters are gone.
The Cardinals are a young team that can use this year for development. I don’t expect them to be a contender for the Southland title.
McNeese State Cowboys
|ATS Record ’21-22||13-14-2 (48.2%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||17-12-0 (58.6%)|
McNeese State ranked inside the top-30 nationally in points and rebounds in 2021-22. It was also top-60 in Tempo.
The Cowboys should find themselves with similar rankings this season. They return just four players, but bring in an elite group of transfers, including Ty McMillan (Georgia) and Malachi Rhodes (Bucknell).
If anyone is going to make the jump and become a contender in the Southland, it will be the Cowboys.
Houston Christian Huskies
|ATS Record ’21-22||11-14-0 (44%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||11-13-1 (45.8%)|
Houston Christian enters this season following one of the saddest losses in college basketball — Darius Lee tragically passed away over the summer. Lee was a leader both on and off the court for the Huskies, and his presence will truly be missed.
Returning starters include Brycen Long and Sam Hofman. Additionally, Zach Iyeyemi is expected to take on a more significant role after earning 10 starts a season ago.
Most of the incoming transfers hail from JUCO programs, and the Huskies are likely to struggle with depth off the bench.
Their offensive output could make them competitive in the middle of the pack, but it can only take them so far.
|ATS Record ’21-22||8-17-2 (32%)|
|O/U Record ’21-22||13-14-0 (48.2%)|
With all due respect, Lamar’s one-year tenure in the WAC was so bad that its desire to move back to the Southland was met with little-to-no protest.
Lamar won just two games last season, and neither came against a Division-I program.
Every transfer entering the program this year comes from a JUCO.
No disrespect to JUCO transfers — there’s a lot of good talent at that level — but there’s not enough on this roster to keep it out of the bottom three in the Southland.
Southland Futures & Picks
All but two teams in the Southland hit the over at a rate of 52% or better a season ago. Even with the return of Lamar and Houston Christian — and the addition of A&M-Commerce — overs should once again be profitable in this conference.
Every team except A&M-Commerce, Incarnate Word and Lamar rank inside the top 75 when it comes to projected Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom.
From a futures standpoint, I’m big on the Islanders and would bet them to win the conference down to +150. I think they are a better team than Nicholls and return the talent to make it back-to-back appearances atop the Southland.