Previewing Sun Belt Championship Week

Chris BrooksCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2009

The Sun Belt Conference tournament will begin on Mar. 4 at the higher seeds for the first round. The quarterfinals through the championship will be held at Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Ark.

All 13 teams will be participating in the Sun Belt tournament. The top three teams have a first-round bye. They are the No. 1 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (21-8, 15-3 Sun Belt), the No. 2 Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (22-7, 15-3 Sun Belt), and the No. 3 Troy Trojans (19-11, 14-4 Sun Belt).

Here are the matchups for Mar. 4.

The No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (10-19, 7-11 Sun Belt) host the No. 9 Florida International Golden Panthers (12-19, 7-11 Sun Belt) at 8:30 p.m. The Cajuns won their only meeting against FIU, a 17-point home victory.

The No. 4 North Texas Mean Green (18-11, 11-7 Sun Belt) host the No. 13 Florida Atlantic Owls (6-25, 2-16 Sun Belt) at 8 p.m. The Mean Green won in their only meeting, a 69-60 home win. FAU is 0-18 on the road—soon 0-19.

The No. 5 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (17-13, 10-8 Sun Belt) host the No. 12 Arkansas State Red Wolves (13-16, 5-13 Sun Belt) at 8 p.m. MTSU squeaked out a 60-57 victory home win in their only meeting this season.

The No. 6 South Alabama Jaguars (17-12, 10-8 Sun Belt) host the No. 11 New Orleans Privateers (11-18, 6-12 Sun Belt) at 8:30 p.m. USA won by three at home in the lone meeting between these two teams.

Finally, the No. 7 Denver Pioneers (14-15, 9-9 Sun Belt) host the No. 10 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (10-19, 6-12 Sun Belt) at 9 p.m. Denver won both meetings by an average of 10 points. It is difficult to win thrice in a season over a single team, but Denver should advance.

On Sunday, Mar. 8, the remaining eight will do battle at Summit Arena until the championship game on Mar. 10. The championship game will be televised on ESPN2 at 10 p.m.