It is the final game of the regular season. Welcome to March Madness everybody!
Tip-off is slated for 2pm at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Let's get into tournament seeding scenarios:
The Bobcats can still finish anywhere between 3rd and 7th in the final standings depending on the outcomes of today's 6 Sun Belt games. A top 4 seed is pivotal as they get a first round bye. That extra day's rest can be huge in a tournament format where you're playing a game a day.
The Sun Belt posted a 32 page document with all scenarios. Thundercat posted it in it's own thread, but here it is again:http://www.sunbeltsports.org/documents/2017/3/3//3_4_Saturday_Scenarios_ALL.pdf
For the most part, we have to win and we need South Alabama to beat Arkansas State. In the 17 scenarios in which that combination could occur we would get a top 4 seed in 16 of them.
There are also 17 scenarios in which we beat ULM but Arkansas State beats South Alabama. We would get a top 4 seed in just 1 of those scenarios.
The most important thing to factor in is it is mathematically impossible for us to lose today and get a top 4 seed. We must win today for any shot at a first round bye.
Luckily, we are playing the last place team in the conference today in ULM. The Warhawks are 8-22 overall and just 2-15 in Sun Belt games. This will not be an easy game though. ULM has dropped so many close games this year it's not even funny. 3 of their 15 Sun Belt losses are overtime losses. 4 others were by less than 5 points. They've lost a ton of heartbreakers. Also, it's senior day for them today. We saw firsthand how motivated a team can be on Senior Day earlier this week in San Marcos.
I've seen ULM play a few times this year, including in person in Strahan in January for the Bobcats 63-57 win earlier this season. The key to beating ULM is to wear them down or get them in foul trouble. They have no depth at all and heavily depend on just 6 guys. After those 6 their talent level drops significantly.
The top 3 players are Travis Munnings, Sam McDaniel, and Nick Coppola. Sophomore forward Munnings leads the way with 12.9 PPG and 8.0 RPG. At 6-6 Munnings is a dangerous player that can score in a variety of ways, including from 3 as he shoots 34.8% from there. Expect a matchup of best players on each team as Tilbury and Munnings will likely guard each other today. The 6-5 F/G McDaniel has also emerged as a big scoring threat this season as well as he's averaging 12.0 PPG. McDaniel is a "swingman" type player similar to Nijal Pearson that is a bit of a shooting guard/small forward hybrid. He takes the most shots on the team but isn't quite as dangerous from outside as Munnings. Given their similarities in size and playing style I'd expect another great matchup here as Pearson and McDaniel will likely guard each other. The other player to watch for ULM is the pesky senior PG Nick Coppola. Coppola is a bit of an annoying player if he's not on your team as he doesn't look the part of a star player. He's a pass first PG with a good outside shot (about 54% of his shots taken are from 3). He will look to get Munnings and McDaniel good looks but is certainly a scoring threat himself as he averages 9.6 PPG. Ojai Black and Coppola will be another fun matchup to watch.
There's a lot on the line for TXST today in terms of tournament seeding. Obviously the only path for TXST to the NCAA tournament is winning the Sun Belt tournament. A first round bye improves our slim chances pretty significantly. ULM will be either the 11 or 12 seed in the tournament and probably aren't as concerned about their seeding, but it's senior day and they'll be looking to send guys like Nick Coppola out with style. Expect a close game throughout and expect a polar opposite game than we saw on Thursday. I expect this game to be a low scoring grind. TXST just moved from a 1 point favorite to a 2 point favorite in the last hour. Vegas is expecting a close game also.