Sun Belt Conference Tournament 2013 bracket: Middle Tennessee State heavy favorites

USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Riders are expected to win the Sun Belt championship this week. Should they get upset, they'll have a nervous wait once Selection Sunday arrives.

The 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament is set to begin in Hot Springs, Ark., this week as all 11 teams take the floor. Some of the games will be played at the Summit Arena, while others will be held at the Convention Center Court.

The Middle Tennessee St. Blue Riders are the favorites to cut down the nets. They went 27-4 in the regular season, including a 19-1 mark against Sun Belt opponents. Their lone conference loss came in overtime to Arkansas State back in early January.

If Middle Tennessee is upset in the conference tournament, their NCAA Tournament fate would hang in the balance come Selection Sunday. They feature a top-30 RPI and are rated highly by Kenpom's efficiency ratings, but they lack signature victories on their resume.

The top five seeds, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock and Florida International, all receive byes in the first round. The other teams, seeded six through 11, will begin play on Friday.

The Sun Belt Digital Network will stream the first round live. The quarterfinals games played at Summit Arena will be televised on the Sun Belt Network, while the others at the Convention Center Court will be on the SBDN. Both semifinals matchups will be live on the Sun Belt Network. The championship will be aired by ESPN.

Last year, No. 7-seeded Western Kentucky won four games in a row to claim the conference crown.

Here is the full 2013 tournament schedule. All times are Eastern.

Friday, March 8 - First Round

7 p.m.: No. 6 Western Kentucky vs. No. 11 Louisiana-Monroe (Game 1, Summit Arena), Sun Belt Digital Network
7:30 p.m.: No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 9 North Texas (Game 2, Convention Center Court), SBDN
9:30 p.m.: No. 7 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 10 Troy (Game 3, Summit Arena), SBDN

Saturday, March 9 - Quarterfinals

7 p.m.: No. 4 Florida International vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (Game 4, Convention Center Court), SBDN
7:30 p.m.: No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. Game 2 Winner (Game 5, Summit Arena), Sun Belt Network
9:30 p.m.: No. 3 South Alabama vs. Game 1 Winner (Game 6, Convention Center Court), SBDN
10 p.m.: No. 2 Arkansas State vs. Game 3 Winner (Game 7, Summit Arena), Sun Belt Network

Sunday, March 10 - Semifinals

7:30 p.m.: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, Sun Belt Network
10 p.m.: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner, Sun Belt Network

Monday, March 11 - Championship

7 p.m.: Semifinals Winners, ESPN

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