Southland conference tournament preview

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Lamar head coach Pat Knight lit into his team at a press conference.

He called them names. He referred to drug use. He sounded like he was throwing his players under the bus. I called him on it. And now I look stupid, because the Cardinals responded by winning their last three games of the regular season, including a win over McNeese State on the final day of the regular season. That locked up the Eastern Division of the Southland Conference for Lamar.

So maybe Pat Knight knew what he was doing.

At the very least, it sets up an intriguing situation. Lamar is a talented team and may have the best trio in the conference. If they are playing their best basketball right now, might they be able to make a run?

The Bracket

Where: Katy, TX

When: March 7th-March 10th

Final: March 10th, 3 p.m. ESPN2

Favorite: UT-Arlington

Arlington had a bit of the luster taken off of their season when they lost their last game to UT-San Antonio, which ended their bit for an unbeaten conference season, but that doesn’t chance the fact that this group can play. LaMarcus Reed III scores 17.6 ppg to lead a team that likes to get out and run as much as anyone in the country.

And if they lose?: Lamar

Yup, I’m going to take the Cardinals. Kenpom rates them as the second best team in the conference. They have a three-headed monster of Mike James (the scorer), Anthony Miles (the playmaker) and Devon Lamb (the big guy) that can rank with anyone in the league. They won their last three games and seem to have a renewed focus. I’m not doubting Pat Knight this time.

Sleepers: Stephen F. Austin slows the game down and can be a tough team to play as a result. That’s why they finished second in the conference. Keep an eye on UT-San Antonio, however. They beat Arlington in the last game of the regular season and would draw them again should both teams advance to the semifinals.

Studs:

Anthony Miles, Lamar: For my money, Miles is the best player of the Cardinals. He is fifth in the conference in scoring and second in assists.

Patrick Richard, McNeese State: Richard led the conference in scoring at 18.2 ppg for a team that finished second in the east division.

William Mosley, Northwestern State: The nation’s second-leading shot-blocker. He’s also why you should root for Northwestern State this week.

LaMarcus Reed III, UT-Arlington: The league’s second-leading scorer and the star of the team that ran through the conference.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.