- The Southland Conference Tournament starts Tuesday, March 9 and wraps up Saturday, March 13 with all tourney games being played at the Merrell Center in Katy, TX
- Abilene Christian and regular season champion Nicholls State are the tourney favorites
- See the odds, seeds, bracket, and tournament preview, below
The Southland Conference gets underway with first round play Tuesday, March 9, and wraps up Saturday, March 13, with the championship game. All games will be played at the Merrell Center in Katy, TX.
Abilene Christian and regular-season champion Nicholls State are the prohibitive favorites, as Sam Houston State is the only other program in the tournament that finished with an overall and league mark over .500. (Stephen F. Austin did as well, but the program is serving a postseason ban and will not compete.)
2021 Southland Tournament Odds
|Abilene Christian (2)||-175|
|Nicholls State (1)||+225|
|Sam Houston State (3)||+350|
|New Orleans (5)||+2500|
|Northwestern State (4)||+2500|
|McNeese State (9)||+6000|
|Houston Baptist (10)||+10000|
|Incarnate Word (7)||+10000|
|SE Louisiana (8)||+10000|
Odds as of March 8th.
Going Out in Style
This will likely be Abilene Christian’s last appearance in the Southland Tournament, as the program is joining the WAC as soon next season. ACU, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin — aka “The Texas Four” — are petitioning the WAC Board of Directors for entry to their new home as early as July 1, 2021.
Regardless of when the Wildcats go, the program would like nothing more than to win the conference tourney this season as favorites and go out in style.
Our guys put in the work this year and the conference recognized [email protected] – 1st team
Joe Pleasant – 2nd [email protected] – 3rd team / [email protected] [email protected] all-defense#GoWildcats https://t.co/7gIWMdiv5W
— Abilene Christian Basketball (@ACU_MBB) March 8, 2021
The Wildcats are led by senior center Kolton Kohl, who was named to the All-Southland First-Team Monday. Kohl is averaging a team-leading 12.1 points per game and also grabs 4.7 boards per contest. The San Angelo native had 19 games scoring in double figures and shot 55% from the field this season. Joining Kohl on the ACU postseason honor roll were Joe Pleasant, who earned all-conference Second-Team honors, along with a trio of players — Coryon Mason, Damien Daniels and Reggie Miller — who were named to the All-Defense team.
Finishing with a 21-4 record overall and 13-2 league mark, head coach Joe Golding’s squad is rated No. 93 by KenPom, the only Southland team to crack the top-100. The ‘Cats are also in the top-10 in three efficiency categories: defensive turnover percentage (27.1%, the best in the country), defensive non-steal turnover percentage (14.4%, good for 2nd), and defensive steal percentage (12.8%, good for the 6th). The Wildcats also went 13-0 at home this season.
While ACU is a legit favorite in Katy, there’s a couple other teams that could easily win the title.
Nicholls and Doing it
All third-year head coach Austin Claunch did this year was lead Nicholls State to its second regular-season league title in four years (and its first outright championship since 1998) while going 17-6 overall and posting a 14-2 league mark.
AND THE WINS JUST KEEP ON COMING!
The Colonels tie a program record w/ THREE @SouthlandSports All-Conference selections, as @JTG_03 locks in a spot on the first team while @ballhard_3 & @Ziggynahh earn third-team honors…MASSIVE congrats to our men, well deserved!#NvsEveryone pic.twitter.com/sFsLKtAY4M
— Nicholls MBB (@Nicholls_MBB) March 8, 2021
The Red & Gray are headlined by senior guard Ty Gordon, who leads the team in points and assists per game (14.9 and 3.7, respectively) Gordon was named to the all-conference first-team for his efforts during the 2020-21 campaign. The Troy transfer was also named Southland’s Newcomer of the Year. Joining Gordon in postseason honors were a pair of third-team selections in senior guard Kevin Johnson and redshirt junior forward Najee Garvin.
The tourney’s top-seed is active on the defensive front, rating in the top-50 in both offensive steal percentage (7.0%, good for 14th_ and offensive block percentage (7.0%, good for 47th). Like ACU — which played and lost to No. 18 Arkansas and No. 21 Texas Tech — Nicholls faced a pair of highly-rated KenPom programs as well this season. The Colonels were defeated by No. 28 LSU and No. 76 St. Mary’s
With talent on the sideline and on its roster, Nicholls could cut down the nets in Katy.
If you’re looking for a dark horse in a field short on parity, the Northwestern State Demons might be attractive. Head coach Mike McConathy’s team went 10-17 overall, but were 9-7 in league play to earn the tourney’s No. 4 seed.
Junior guard Trenton Massner earned all-conference second-team honors while averaging 12.9 points per game and shot nearly 50% from the field on the season.
Plus, if you’re looking for a tournament-tested resume, the Demons have one. The programs scheduled five top-100 teams on KenPom, including a pair of outings to No. 1 Gonzaga. Northwestern State lost them all, but you have to figure that non-conference slate paid dividends. At +2500, the Demons are worth an investment wager.
This tournament appears to be either ACU’s or Nicholls’ to lose. I’ll go with the top-seeded Colonels in this spot, if only for the added value at +225.