NEW ORLEANS - WKU, UALR and Troy have earned the top three seeds in the upcoming 2009 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship, set to begin this week. The trio will receive first-round byes and will await their opponents in the quarterfinals in Hot Springs, Ark.
This year's tournament begins with five first-round games at campus sites on Wednesday, March 4 and then moves to Hot Springs for quarterfinal, semifinal and championship competition at Summit Arena, March 8-11. All Sun Belt Conference tournament games in Hot Springs will be broadcast on SBC Extra via SunBeltSports.org. The men's semifinals will be broadcast on ESPN Plus and the finals will be aired live on ESPN2. Additionally, all of the action in Hot Springs can be heard on Sirius Satellite Radio.
Tie-breaking procedures were utilized to seed this year's tournament field, as both Middle Tennessee and South Alabama were tied for the fifth-seed. In a two-way tie, first the head-to-head records were taken in account; however, the two teams split their regular season series this season, therefore, remaining equal. Then, their records against the top seeds were used, beginning with the WKU. Both teams have the same winning percentage against WKU and UALR, yet the Blue Raiders did defeat No. 3 Troy once this season, while South Alabama dropped both contests. Middle Tennessee then becomes the fifth-seed and South Alabama is the sixth-seed.
Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida International also tied with identical 7-11 records. However, the Ragin' Cajuns defeated the Golden Panthers in the only meeting between the two teams. The Cajuns therefore take the eighth-seed and FIU is the ninth-seed.
New Orleans and Louisiana-Monroe also tied with 6-12 records; however the Warhawks defeated the Privateers in both meetings between the two teams. ULM therefore earns the tenth-seed and UNO earns the eleventh-seed.
For only the third time in the Sun Belt Conference's 33-year storied history, the league will play its Men's and Women's Basketball Championships at a neutral site. A total of 16 teams -- eight men and eight women -- will qualify to travel to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Teams will gather at Summit Arena to vie for not only the conference tournament crown, but for the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as well. Not since the 1992 and 1993 seasons has the Sun Belt Conference aligned itself with a neutral venue. During those two years, the league championships were played at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.
1. WKU (15-3, .833)
2. UALR (15-3, .833)
3. Troy (14-4, .778)
4. North Texas (11-7, .611)
5. Middle Tennessee (10-8, .556)
6. South Alabama (10-8, .556)
7. Denver (9-9, .500)
8. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-11, .389)
9. Florida International (7-11, .389)
10. Louisiana-Monroe (6-12, .333)
11. New Orleans (6-12, .333)
12. Arkansas State (5-13, .278)
13. Florida Atlantic (2-16, .111)
MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
First Round - Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - Campus Sites
No. 9 Florida International at No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette (Lafayette, La.)
No. 13 Florida Atlantic at No. 4 North Texas (Denton, Texas)
No. 12 Arkansas State at No. 5 Middle Tennessee (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
No. 11 New Orleans at No. 6 South Alabama (Mobile, Ala.)
No. 10 Louisiana-Monroe at No. 7 Denver (Denver, Colo.)
Quarterfinals - Sunday, March 8, 2009 - Summit Arena
12:30 p.m. - Game 1 - No. 1 WKU vs. No. 8/9
3:00 p.m. - Game 2 - No. 4/13 vs. No. 5/12
6:30 p.m. - Game 3 - No. 2 UALR vs. No. 7/10
9:00 p.m. - Game 4 - No. 3 Troy vs. No. 6/11
Semifinals - Monday, March 9, 2009 - Summit Arena
6:30 p.m. - Game 5 - Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (ESPN+)
9:00 p.m. - Game 6 - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner (ESPN+)
Finals - Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - Summit Arena
9:00 p.m. - Championship Game (ESPN2)