Sun Belt Standings: Welcome to the Logjam
The goal of most teams in the Sun Belt Conference is to finish in the top four of the league.
If a team accomplishes it, they get a first round bye for the conference tournament and only have to win three games to secure the championship as opposed to four.
Louisiana (23-4, 13-1 Sun Belt) has clinched that first round bye and is ever so close to claiming the regular season championship. With four games to play, their "magic number" to clinch the title is two. Any combination of Cajuns' wins and/or Georgia State losses totaling two would clinch the #1 seed in the tournament and assure the Cajuns of a post-season bid. Most believe it's a foregone conclusion.
Georgia State (19-8, 10-4) is very close to clinching a bye as well. The Panthers are three games ahead of those fighting for the final bye and should take care of that in their final four games.
After that, it's pretty crazy with seven schools fighting for the final two byes.
Here is what the teams have remaining.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (17-10, 8-6): The Eagles don't have an easy road. They are in Texas this week, taking on UTA Thursday and Texas State Saturday. The Eagles are 4-3 on the road in league play. Georgia Southern defeated UTA in Statesboro, but lost to Texas State. Georgia Southern is at home for the final two games, where they will face the Alabama schools. Not an easy road. That win Friday over Georgia State might turn out to be the difference.
ULM (13-12, 7-7): What team is the hottest in the Sun Belt? Look to North Louisiana, where the Warhawks have won four straight to get themselves firmly in the mix for one of the top four spots. ULM had not won a road game all season before taking a pair of overtime contests in the state of Georgia. They'll be heavily favored at home in the final two games, so this road trip to Alabama is crucial. ULM lost to Troy and defeated South Alabama when they played those teams in Monroe.
SOUTH ALABAMA (14-13, 7-7): The Jaguars have been some kind of tough in the Mitchell Center, where they've gone 6-1 against league foes. They'll need to continue that, but it won't be easy with ULM and Louisiana coming to town. Realistically they need to win them both. That trip to Georgia in the final weekend is going to be a tough one, although USA defeated both of them in Mobile.
TROY (13-14, 7-7): In pretty much the same boat as their in-state counterparts. The Trojans are 5-2 at home and are a dangerous team in Trojan Arena. They defeated ULM in Monroe and played the Cajuns well before faltering in the second half. They, too, have that trip to Georgia to close the season. The good news is, they hold the tiebreaker over the Jags, having swept the season series.
UTA (16-12, 7-8): There's been no better definition of "home court hero" than UTA this season. They have only one home loss and that's to Louisiana. They get a chance to continue that this week, hosting the Georgia schools. The pre season favorites have no margin for error. They have to win the last three, realistically if not mathematically. They have to go to San Marcos next Friday. But first things first.
TEXAS STATE (14-14, 7-8): Cue up Tom Petty, because the Bobcats are "free-fallin." Danny Kaspar's club has lost six in a row and that 6-1 start in the league is now a distant memory. Texas State is 3-3 at home. They need them all...against the Georgia schools and UTA. Good luck with that.
APPALACHIAN STATE (12-16, 7-8): This team has been hard to figure out. They've had some nice wins and some head-scratching losses. But there's no denying the schedule is in their favor, with a trip to Arkansas this week and a home game against Coastal Carolina. Even with three wins, it might not be enough, and it should be noted the Mountaineers lost to Arkansas State in Boone. Insert head scratch graphic here.