College Basketball Betting Preview for Sun Belt: How Does Georgia State Respond to Ugly Finish?
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
- Georgia State fell one game short of the NCAA Tournament last season and will look to make up for that in 2021-22.
- App State is one of the most experienced teams in the league as it returns its starting lineup.
- Kyle Remillard previews the league from top-to-bottom.
The winner of the Sun Belt tournament will have an opportunity at a Cinderella story come March.
After a season full of back-to-backs against the same opponent, the schedule returns to its normal format this year. It includes 18 regular season conference games, with the top four teams earning a bye to the quarterfinals in the postseason tournament.
With all the pandemonium in the offseason, the Sun Belt has a handful of squads that are capable of making a run at the conference title.
When betting on the Sun Belt, it is important to see how all the new faces mesh early in the season.
Some teams — like Georgia State, Texas State and Arkansas State — return the vast majority of last year’s production, while other programs — such as Louisiana and South Alabama — relied heavily on the transfer portal.
|Overall Record 2020-21||16-6|
|League Record 2020-21||8-4|
Georgia State was selected to win the Sun Belt in the preseason coaches poll. Rob Lanier’s squad has been crowned the regular season and tournament champion in two of the last three years.
The Panthers managed through a slew of COVID-19 disruptions last season and ultimately fell in the conference championship game to Appalachian State.
The unit gets another chance as they return all five starters and an elite backcourt of Kane Williams, Justin Roberts and Corey Allen. The Panthers run a boatload of pick-and-rolls through Williams and Roberts while Allen serves as the sniper from outside.
The returning depth for Georgia State alone has them poised to avenge last year’s championship loss.
|Overall Record 2020-21||17-9|
|League Record 2020-21||10-7|
The Ragin’ Cajuns finished second in the Sun Belt West division last year, but allowed 72.8 points per game, which was the most in the conference.
The unit was dominant at defending the paint, holding opponents to just 46.7% on two-point attempts. Opponents connected on 35% of their three-point shots, though.
Louisiana welcomes transfers from St. John’s, Memphis and Arizona that should all see the starting rotation.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will be one of the deepest teams in the conference and appropriately, the second favorite at taking down the title.
|Overall Record 2020-21||18-7|
|League Record 2020-21||12-3|
Texas State was dominant defensively last season, holding opponents to just 61.7 points per game (best in the conference). The Bobcats owned two of the best defenders in the conference in Shelby Adams and Isiah Small. The 2020 unit owned a 23% turnover rate defensively.
The Bobcats played at a snail’s-pace offensively, ranking 342nd in the entire nation, according to KenPom. They forced opponents to play in a slugfest with them, but they were still extremely efficient offensively.
The unit owned the sixth-best three-point percentage in the entire country, hitting just below 40%.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown and defending last year’s Sun Belt regular season title will be no easy feat.
|Overall Record 2020-21||17-12|
|League Record 2020-21||7-8|
Appalachian State stunned the conference, winning four games in four days to secure the Sun Belt Tournament. The Mountaineers caught fire at the right time, connecting on 44-of-114 three-point attempts (39%) after shooting just 30% during the regular season.
They lost no one to the transfer portal and return one of the most experienced starting lineups, which includes four seniors and a junior.
The Mountaineers are a guard-oriented team that has only one starter standing above 6-foot-6.
The trio of guards in Michael Almonacy, Justin Forrest and Adrian Delph are the engines behind this offense. The three contributed to 56% of the team’s field goal attempts and 74% of the three-point attempts.
|Overall Record 2020-21||17-11|
|League Record 2020-21||10-7|
South Alabama’s head coach Richie Riley has historically thrived at finding hidden gems via the transfer portal. This offseason is no different as he brings in four SEC pieces, along with a Big-12 wing and a sniper from the SoCon.
The 2020 roster began to catch fire, winning eight games in a row toward the end of the season.
The Jaguars were one of the top defensive units in the Sun Belt, ranking second in field goal percentage allowed.
With the new additions to an already strong roster, the Jaguars are poised to be a dark horse.
|Overall Record 2020-21||11-13|
|League Record 2020-21||7-8|
The Arkansas State Red Wolves lost no one in the offseason and welcomed in one transfer from Arkansas in Desi Sills.
Louisiana has a dominant force in sophomore forward Norchad Omier, who averaged a double-double last season. He was a rebounding machine who grabbed 12.3 boards per game.
The Red Wolves ranked last in the conference in defensive efficiency last season, according to KenPom.
This looks to be the most talented roster the Red Wolves have had in recent years. They have consistently fallen into the middle of the pack in the league, but this could be the year they make the jump to the top.
|Overall Record 2020-21||18-8|
|League Record 2020-21||9-5|
Coastal Carolina will struggle to mimic the success it had last season after losing Sun Belt Player of the Year DeVante Jones to Michigan.
Head coach Cliff Ellis, who is two wins shy of 800 career Division I victories, will lean on the length and defense in hopes to make some noise this season.
The Chanticleers roll out four starters who are at least 6-foot-6, excluding Kansas State transfer Rudi Williams.
Coastal uses a variety of zone and matchup defenses to keep opponents on their heels.
Last season, the defense ranked first in the conference in opponent field goal percentage and second in defensive efficiency. The Chanticleers will be testing the adage that “defense wins championships” this season.
|Overall Record 2020-21||13-13|
|League Record 2020-21||9-8|
Greg Young takes over the head coaching role and pleads that he will have the Mavericks playing at one of the fastest paces in the country.
The roster loses three of their top four leading scorers from last season. They return one double digit scorer in redshirt senior David Azore, who missed extended time last season. Joining him this season is Pedro Castro, who was a lights out shooter from Houston Baptist.
The starting lineup has only one player that is over 6-foot-6, so size is a concern for the Mavericks.
Last season, they ranked among the bottom in the conference in rebounding and there was not much done in the offseason to address that.
|Overall Record 2020-21||13-13|
|League Record 2020-21||7-9|
Georgia Southern had three straight 20-win seasons from 2017-2019 under head coach Mark Byington. After Byington’s departure, Brian Burg was left fumbling to put together a roster amid COVID-19.
The team wasn’t afraid to bomb threes as they led the Sun Belt in attempts. They only connected on 34%, though.
They lose Eric Boone and Zack Bryant, who both led the team in points and field goal attempts per game.
The Eagles are still in the rebuild process and are a few years away from making any real noise in the Sun Belt Conference.
|Overall Record 2020-21||11-17|
|League Record 2020-21||4-12|
Troy finished with a 4-12 record in Sun Belt play last year simply due to a lack of shooting. The Trojans converted on 28.1% of their three-point attempts, ranking 341th nationally. They ranked last in the conference in offensive efficiency and 11th in field goal percentage.
Duke Miles started at point guard as a true freshman and was truly hit or miss. He led the team in assists (90) but also in turnovers (80).
The Trojans recruited five players from the portal to help address their shooting woes. However, it’s unlikely we see an immediate impact in the standings unless Miles matures at an accelerated rate.
|Overall Record 2020-21||7-19|
|League Record 2020-21||5-13|
It’s been a tough decade for the UL Monroe basketball program that has finished above .500 just twice during that span.
The team ranked last in the conference in offensive rebounds and free throw attempts per game last season. After starting 2-0 in conference play, the Warhawks won three of their final 17 games.
They welcome in two JUCO transfers and another two from mid-major programs but there is not enough talent to see any significant improvements.
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