After a few weeks of low movement, it seemed that our Sun Belt power rankings had all the teams figured out. No one could beat Georgia State, while Troy and South Alabama looked to be going nowhere fast. Everyone else just seemed to fall into place.
Then Saturday happened.
Georgia State, UALR, WKU, and Arkansas State all fell, while Troy and South Alabama proved that they still had more to offer in conference play. In short, the rankings take a different look this week, but still have the same No. 1.
Who is No. 2? Let’s take a look.
1) Georgia State Panthers - The Panthers were in cruise control and were playing a Troy Trojans team that had lost six of their last seven. After falling behind in the first half, the Panthers lost to the Trojans 85-81. It was their first conference loss and snapped a 14-game winning streak. Georgia State dropped out of the top-100 in RPI (106) with that loss, but is still a team that controls its own destiny.
2) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns- The Ragin’ Cajuns earned the No. 2 spot this week, following wins over the UALR Trojans and Arkansas State Red Wolves. There is a lot to like about this team, but they haven’t shown much consistency this season. The talent is there and they seem to be catching fire; winning their last five contests.
3) WKU Hilltoppers- You could make a case for a number of teams to be here and that the Hilltoppers should be punished for their crushing loss to the South Alabama Jaguars. WKU gets the nod because its body of work has been better over the course of the season than the remaining teams. This is still a talented club and there is still a lot to like in Bowling Green.
4) Arkansas State Red Wolves- An argument could be made for the Red Wolves to be as high as No. 3 this week, but they instead remain here. They beat up on the South Alabama Jaguars and got beat up by the Ragin’ Cajuns. Like many teams in the Sun Belt, Arkansas State has been inconsistent. Fortunately, they have the ability to play with any team on any night.
5) UT Arlington Mavericks- There really is a lot to like about this Mavericks team. Jamel Outler, Brandon Edwards, and Reger Dowell have been an impressive scoring combination throughout the 2013-14 campaign. Unfortunately, the team isn’t consistent. Still, the Mavericks were one of two teams to win two conference games last week and they get rewarded by jumping up a spot.
6) UALR Trojans- The Trojans were looking like a legitimate Sun Belt player two weeks ago, when they were 7-3 in conference play. They have since lost four straight. The Trojans are a fun team to watch and can play with conference’s best. Can they get out of this rut in time to make some noise in the conference tournament?
7) UL-Monroe Warhawks- The Warhawks continue to hang around in the Sun Belt, and currently sit as the seventh seed in the tournament. They still need to do more to emerge as a real contender in the tournament, but are doing enough to at least get in the door.
8) Troy Trojans- Congratulations are extended to the Troy Trojans, who rose to the occasion and snapped the Georgia State Panthers’ 14-game winning streak. Do the Trojans have enough to create the same kind of upsets in the conference tournament? Only time will tell, but the victory over the Panthers was a good start.
9) Texas State Bobcats- I said that the Bobcats had gotten better from the start of the season a few weeks ago, and I stand by that. Yes, they have lost three consecutive contests, and seven of their last nine, but many of these losses have been close. They are currently on the outside looking in at the conference tournament, but, with continued improvement, still have a chance to make a run to get in.
10) South Alabama Jaguars- Troy’s upset might have made the most noise in the conference, but South Alabama’s throttling win over WKU might have been more impressive. WKU head coach Ray Harper said that he thought the Jaguars were a more talented team than the Hilltoppers. While I don’t agree with that, I do think that this team is too talented to be sitting at home come tournament time.