Georgia State continues to be the most elite team in the Sun Belt and the only team within the conference that has an RPI inside the top 100 (84). After that the conference becomes very mediocre.
The WKU Hilltoppers are winners of five straight and are worthy of a rise this week. The UALR Trojans saw their stock move up after winning two games last week, but the rest of the Sun Belt is not so clear-cut. There are a lot of mediocre teams fighting for the fourth spot in the power rankings.
So who pulls into that spot this week?
1) Georgia State Panthers - The Panthers survived a scare at home against the UT Arlington Mavericks on Saturday thanks to Devonta White’s 3-pointer made with two seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. They were able to close out the game by outscoring the Mavericks by 10 points in overtime. This team is the most complete team in the conference and the Panthers don’t seem to be slowing down.
2) WKU Hilltoppers- After struggling to find some rhythm, the Hilltoppers are back in the second slot in the power rankings. Their five-game winning streak is the most since the 2009-10 season, when they won six straight. The Hilltoppers need to fix their poor free-throw shooting if they plan to challenge Georgia State as the best team in the conference.
3) UALR Trojans- The Trojans move up a spot to No. 3 this week after beating an up-and-down Ragin’ Cajuns team and a lowly Jaguars team. Will Neighbour added onto his impressive season this week by averaging 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, two blocks, and shot 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. This week will prove to be a tough test for the Trojans, who welcome Georgia State and WKU to Jack Stephens Center.
4) Arkansas State Red Wolves- Here is where it starts to get messy. The Red Wolves lost to UL-Monroe last week, but just about every Sun Belt team has lost games that it shouldn’t have. They get the benefit of the doubt because they are the only team remaining with a winning record inside conference play. Ed Townsell became the 26th player at Arkansas State to score 1,000 points, a feat he accumulated on Jan. 26.
5) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns- This is not the same UL-Lafayette team that people expected to see. The Ragin’ Cajuns lost to UALR this week, but were able to manage a victory in the rematch against UL-Monroe. This team should be playing much better than their 4-5 record indicates, but it’s hard to make a case for a higher spot when the team has been so inconsistent.
6) UT Arlington Mavericks- The Mavericks played some very good basketball this week, despite losing both of their games. A miraculous comeback and overtime loss to Georgia State and a tough regulation loss to WKU summed up the Mavericks week. They are still playing good basketball, however, and Reger Dowell is putting up some impressive numbers.
7) UL-Monroe Warhawks- The Warhawks beat Arkansas State, but lost to UL-Lafayette, further proving their inconsistency. Tylor Ongwae is quietly having a good season, however. He is averaging 16.2 points per contest and recorded his third double-double of the season on Saturday night.
8) Texas State Bobcats- Texas State finally emerged from the bottom of the basement and moves up two spots to No. 8 this week. The Bobcats beat a Troy team that has been spiraling toward the bottom of the Sun Belt, but lost to a very good WKU team by four points. They’ve got a ways to go, but the team is improving.
9) Troy Trojans- The Trojans lost both games this week. They looked like they might be a contender early in the season, but their inconsistency has devolved into poor play. They have lost five straight heading into the game against South Alabama on Thursday.
10) South Alabama Jaguars - No matter how much potential a team has, you have to look at success. The Jaguars have potential to be one of the premiere teams in the conference, but have been lifeless during conference play.