The first day of the Southland Conference tournament begins Wednesday in Katy, Texas, as the bottom four seeds of the conference battle it out in hopes of grabbing a surprise auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Most bracketologists are pinning the Southland Conference as a one-bid league and pinning those hopes on the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The Lumberjacks have a profile that isn't really worthy of a bubble spot in the tournament, so there aren't too many bubble implications in the tournament.
The Southland Conference has an interesting format, where only eight of the 10 teams make it into the tournament. The top two seeds have byes all the way into the quarterfinals, to be played on Friday, March 15.
In the first game of the evening, the eighth-seeded McNeese St. Cowboys take on the fifth-seeded Nicholls Colonels. The Cowboys finished the season with a better overall record, 13-16 compared to the Colonels 9-20, but finished the conference play one game behind the Colonels. The two teams split their pair of meetings this year, but the Cowboys had the last laugh to close out the regular season, upending the Colonels, 91-88, in a double-overtime win. Sophomore forward Desharick Guidry, who leads the Cowboys with 12.7 points a game, scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win.
In the other first-round game of the evening, the sixth-seeded Sam Houston St. Bearkats play the seventh-seeded Central Arkansas Bears. Sam Houston beat Central Arkansas in both meetings this year, and will be trying to see if the third time is a charm. The Bearkats struggled on offense, ranking 339th in the nation in field goal percentage and don't have a single player averaging double-digit points per game. It's the opposite story for the Bears, who are 19th in the nation with 76.9 points a game and are led by Jarvis Garner, LaQuentin Miles and Robert Crawford, a trio of scorers averaging 15 or more points each game.
No. 5 Nicholls State vs. No. 8 McNeese State, 5 p.m. ET
No. 6 Sam Houston State vs. No. 7 Central Arkansas, 7:30 p.m. ET
A link to the full bracket can be found here.