There was a bit of a shakeup in the Sun Belt power rankings this week, including a new No. 1. Troy made the biggest jump, while South Alabama had the largest drop.
There was a big matchup that turned out to be not quite as big, and there were a few smaller matchups that turned out to be bigger than originally imagined. Who looks the best to win the conference tournament in New Orleans? Here’s how the Sun Belt stacks up after the second week of conference play:
1) Georgia State Panthers - A new No. 1 is atop the Sun Belt power rankings after the Panthers throttled WKU by 23 points. Their bench still lacks contributing minutes, but the starters have more than made up for it. The Panthers are red-hot, and are the early favorites to be the Sun Belt Champions.
2) WKU Hilltoppers - The Hilltoppers displayed dismal shooting and ball handling on Thursday night and fell to Georgia State 77-54. WKU needs more consistency from George Fant in these bigger games that it will play. There are still 15 games remaining for the Hilltoppers, and they have enough pieces to compete in March.
3) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns - After falling flat in their opening game, the Ragin’ Cajuns trounced a UT Arlington team by 20 points. Shawn Long nearly had a triple-double in the game and Elfrid Payton did what Elfrid Payton does. This team is very good and should not be taken lightly by any opponent.
4) Arkansas State Red Wolves - Arkansas State lost to a Troy Trojans team that leaves a lot to be desired, but was still able to put away a South Alabama team that has played poorly. Next week they will be tested when they play a Georgia State squad that is the hottest team in the conference.
5) Troy Trojans - It was probably unfair to put Troy so low on the rankings last week, especially considering that the Trojans lost to the top two teams in the conference. This week they rebounded quite nicely by beating Arkansas State and UALR. The Trojans have momentum in their favor and could be the surprise of the Sun Belt this season.
6) UALR Trojans - The Trojans have been a pleasant surprise in the Sun Belt early on, despite their loss to Troy on Saturday. They haven’t been tested yet, but that will change when they have back-to-back contests against WKU and Georgia State next week.
7) UL-Monroe Warhawks - The Warhawks entered with a strong RPI and got the benefit of the doubt, due to a tough non-conference schedule. They beat a very good UL-Lafayette squad, but then fell flat against UT Arlington and Texas State, a game in which they managed just 36 points. Is this the team that beat a very good Ragin’ Cajuns squad? Or is it the one that is getting beat by the teams lower in the pack?
8) UT Arlington Mavericks - The Mavericks picked up their first win against UL-Monroe but then proceeded to get thrashed by UL-Lafayette a few days later. This team has shown that it can score with any player on any night, but has failed to convert that to W’s. The Mavericks have the potential to be a scary team come tournament time, but will they get everyone to contribute at the same time?
9) South Alabama Jaguars - Matthew Graves was an interesting hire for the Jaguars but has fallen short of what many expected him to do. South Alabama is the only team winless inside the conference and did not play the best competition in the second week of conference play. This has been a very underwhelming year for the Jags and they haven’t shown anything that proves they will be better.
10) Texas State Bobcats - Texas State ranks near the bottom in nearly every statistical category in the Sun Belt. They did get their first win inside the conference, but it wasn’t a pretty one.