By Patrick Herion
March is here; the month of chaos, upsets, and unknown teams dominating conference tournaments. Starting March 7, the Sun Belt will begin its conference tournament. Ten teams make it, and only one will be crowned the champion.
This season, Little Rock dominated the Sun Belt winning 15 conference games and winning the regular-season title. The Trojans come in as the No. 1-seed in the tournament and the clear favorite to win the championship. You will want to watch Sophomore guard Marquis Nowell play during the tournament. He averaged 17.2 points per game and shot a solid 39.1% from behind the arc. Not only should you watch Nowell, but you should also keep your eye out for 6’10” Junior forward Ruot Monyyong. Monyyong averages 9.8 rebounds per game and scoring 11.9 ppg. The two-headed monster of Monyyong and Nowell should be enough to give Little Rock a chance at winning the Sun Belt championship.
Now, what is a tournament without a dark horse?
This year’s dark horse: Appalachian State University. App. State comes in as the No. 6-seed in the tournament this year after going 11-9 in conference and 17-14 during the season — my answer as to why this team could be a dark horse: Justin Forrest and O’Showen Williams. Forrest is second in the Sun Belt, scoring 17.3 points per game and shoots 30% from the field. When he is on, he is deadly. Williams, on the other hand, is one of the better guards in the Sun Belt. He averages 12.9 points per game and plays an average of 34.3 minutes per game (yes, a college player can do that). On top of that, he has improved his three-point shooting to 35.4%. These two players can beat anyone in this conference, and they will surely make you want to tune into an Applachian State basketball game.
Now, you may be asking, “Who is one person that I should watch during the tournament?” Well, that one person is none other than Sun Belt player of the year Nijal Pearson of Texas State.
Pearson has dominated the Sun Belt averaging 19.3 points per game and shooting 35% from deep. He has single-handedly put Texas State on his back and put them into the No. 3-seed of the tournament. He can change the outcome of any game and can potentially carry Texas State into the big dance.
They don’t call it the Fun Belt for nothing, This year’s Sun Belt tournament will be a fun one to watch. That’s why I say that Little Rock will find their way into the championship and will end up winning and will be heading to the March Madness. With the two-headed monster of Nowell and Monyyong, this team will be hard to beat in the tournament.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org