Second place isn't glamorous. The second fiddle never sounds as good, and the second horse to finish the race doesn't get the biggest carrot.

Bob Marlin's Ragin' Cajuns Basketball team went into their game against Little Rock with a full head of steam, riding a nine game win streak. They hoped to take away first place in the Sun Belt Conference from the Trojans, but they were left with the bittersweet taste of second place still lingering in their mouths. The win was within reach, and it was yanked away at the end.

Every coach hopes to earn the top spot the old fashioned way, with a win over the alpha dog of the pack. Unfortunately for the Cajuns, that chance has passed. Now they have to hope the Trojans trip up.

If somebody does beat Little Rock, the door will be open. It's up to Marlin's team to walk over the welcome mat.

"There's still some time left, but we have to take care of our business," Marlin said in his weekly press conference.

Six games remain on the Cajuns' schedule, and the next four come on the road.

If the Cajuns can survive the trip to Texas to play UT-Arlington and Texas State, they head straight to Alabama to play Troy and South Alabama. Then, they finish out the regular season by inviting the two Georgia teams into the Cajundome. The hill to climb gets steeper. Little Rock only have half of their remaining six games on the road. That's one more home game to make things difficult for the Cajuns to catch them from behind.

Meanwhile in Monroe, the Warhawks are trying to catch the Cajuns. In the Sun Belt food chain, nobody is safe.

So not only do the Cajuns have to take care of their business in hopes of catching Little Rock, they have to hold off their surging rivals. ULM won seven of their last eight games, but they face an identical end to their season: four straight on the road followed by two games at home to finish out the regular season. To the winner goes the spoils, and a first round bye in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

If you think the Cajuns want the two seed, you must not be familiar with the Warhawks.

Little Rock is in solid position to earn a first round bye, even if they hand over their throne atop the conference before the tournament. The Warhawks are looking at three straight games if they finish in third place, and they only play about six or seven players. Not having to play the first game would be a godsend to ULM, but the Cajuns can prevent them from achieving that much-needed luxury.

It's hard to put value in coach-speak, but Marlin's "take care of business" mentality applies in both directions. Taking care of business would keep the Warhawks off their backs, and it would give them a chance to catch Little Rock if they trip before the finish.

The ultimate goal for every basketball team is to make it into the NCAA Tournament. Once you're there, Cinderella's slipper has a chance of fitting your foot. In the Sun Belt Conference, the only ticket to the dance comes through cutting down nets. The easiest way to achieve that goal is to get a first round bye, and there are three horses in the race for two spots.

There's a reason race horses wear blinders. If you lose sight of the finish line, somebody might catch you.

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