Stephen F. Austin has played in the last three NCAA Tournaments, but from the start, Lumberjack fans knew this year would be a little more difficult.
Gone are the trio of Thomas Walkup, Clide Geffrard, and Demetrious Floyd, not to mention head coach Brad Underwood, who took the head gig at Oklahoma State. Meanwhile around the league, New Orleans and Houston Baptist entered the year on an upswing, while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi stayed tough.
And the season played out more or less as expected: Stephen F. Austin is good — a contender to win the Southland Tournament for sure — but it’s not nearly as clear-cut as it has been in previous years.
The Southland is one of the low-major conferences that looks to protect its top seeds at all costs. That means the top two seeds receive double byes in the eight-team field, and the third and fourth seeds receive single byes.
New Orleans earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament, which tips off Wednesday evening in Katy, Texas. The Privateers and 2 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi don’t have to worry about playing until the semifinals. The Lumberjacks and Houston Baptist earned a single bye and the 3 and 4 seeds respectively. The four teams playing on the first night are 5 seed Sam Houston State, 6 seed Lamar, 7 seed Southeastern Louisiana, and 8 seed Central Arkansas. As transitional Division I members, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word are not yet eligible for the postseason.
Here’s the full Southland Tournament bracket: