The third week of conference play just made everything muddy in the Sun Belt. Georgia State is the best team in the conference, but what about after the Panthers? To be blunt, the rest are just jumbled together.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers dropped a winnable game against UALR, but then beat Arkansas State. UL-Lafayette had an excellent opportunity to arise as the second best team in the conference, but fell to an underperforming South Alabama team. South Alabama hasn’t looked like the team everyone expected, and no one knows what to make of Arkansas State, UALR, UL-Monroe, or Troy.
So how do you make sense of this? We’re here to do that for you.
1) Georgia State Panthers - They are the uncontested No. 1 team in this conference right now. The Panthers are riding a nine-game winning streak to go along with their 5-0 conference record. It helps that they have two of the top six players in points per game in the Sun Belt (Ryan Harrow and RJ Hunter).
2) Arkansas State Red Wolves - It’s hard for a team to move up in the power rankings after losing twice in the same week. The fact is that Arkansas State played Georgia State down the wire, and it took a second overtime for WKU to beat the Red Wolves. The schedule gets a little easier this week when they play UALR and UL-Monroe.
3) UALR Trojans - The Trojans have done what many expected: be unpredictable. They beat a good Hilltoppers team on the road, but then looked completely overwhelmed by Georgia State two days later. Some questioned how they would compete without a real star on the roster, but Will Neighbour has averaged 17.8 points per game, which is fifth best in the Sun Belt.
4) WKU Hilltoppers - The Hilltoppers could be anywhere from second to sixth on this list. They had a bad loss to UALR, but rebounded well in a double overtime win against Arkansas State. George Fant is the player to watch at WKU. He’s averaged more than 16 points in eleven wins, but less than seven points in their seven losses.
5) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns - Ouch. That was the reaction by everyone when the Ragin’ Cajuns lost to South Alabama, a team that has been playing terribly. Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton are second and third in the conference in scoring, but somehow this team remains inconsistent. They draw the tough task of playing Georgia State and WKU this week, which will help label them as contenders or pretenders.
6) UL-Monroe Warhawks - They have the benefit of a strong RPI and can’t be punished for winning their only game this week. It’s hard to get a feel for this team, as they had a big win over UL-Lafayette, but laid an egg against Texas State. They have big tests this week when they welcome WKU and Georgia State to Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
7) UT Arlington Mavericks - The Mavericks picked up an unimpressive win against Texas State on Saturday, but they do have Reger Dowell, the top scorer in the Sun Belt. Brandon Edwards has made improvements and there are lot of other things to like about the Mavericks. Unfortunately they have not been able to put it together as a team just yet.
8) Troy Trojans - It’s easy to make a point that the Trojans should be higher on this list, but falling flat last week made that hard to do. Should they pull victories over UT Arlington and Texas State this week, Troy will be back at the door as a potential dark horse.
9) South Alabama Jaguars - The Jaguars pulled off an impressive win over UL-Lafayette, but then lost to UL-Monroe at home. Currently we have seen more negative than positive performances from the Jaguars, which leaves them sitting at the bottom of the list. There is still potential on this team, but time is running out.
10) Texas State Bobcats- At least Texas State has been consistent in the power rankings. It gets to play UALR and Troy this week; both of which have been inconsistent. Can head coach Danny Kaspar pull a turnaround?