On Monday afternoon, we continued conference previews with the Sun Belt. Every week on Twitter, we will preview two conferences while streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
For the full Twitter Space, hit the link below:
To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness writer Nick Lorensen and Brady Weiler from THERSday Night recapped what happened in the Sun Belt last season and so far this offseason. Georgia State was the subject of a lot of the talk, winning seven straight to end the regular season before going on and winning one of the most balanced conference tournaments in recent history. They would challenge Gonzaga in the Round of 64 but struggled late in the game due to some injuries. Head coach Rob Lanier left for SMU soon after and the Panthers hired Xavier’s head coach for most of last season, Jonas Hayes. Also leaving the league was Player of the Year Norchad Omier (Arkansas State) who transferred to Miami.
Appalachian State head coach Dustin Kerns (9:50) then hopped on the space to talk about the program that he has built in Boone and the excitement in the area. On Saturday, the Mountaineers football program beat No.6 Texas A&M, setting up College Gameday to be on campus this Saturday.
“It’s just going to showcase and expose our university and raise the profile of our athletic department. Really the App State brand,” Kerns said of the impact school wide, adding some recruits will make a visit that day.
The Mountaineers made the NCAA Tournament in 2021 but lost three key contributors this season.
Following him, Troy head coach Scott Cross (39:40) joined the space. Cross impressed many around the league when he built his alma mater UT Arlington into a power and is doing it again in Alabama.
“It took a little bit longer than we expected,” Cross said. “This past year, we finally got the core group of guys that really bought into what we do defensively and play together offensively. It kinda clicked for us for the most part.”
Troy won 20 games for the first time since 2017 and should continue on an upward trajectory under Cross.
Closing out our conversations with coaches, Arkansas State head coach Mike Balado (55:00) came on to speak about what he’s built in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves finished over .500 in-league for the first time in his tenure and return a sound leader in Caleb Fields.
“He’s been a leader for us ever since day one. I think he’s started every game for me since he’s walked on campus,” Balado said. “People listen to him. He’s got a really great way of communicating with his teammates. One of the best I’ve seen since Peyton Siva at diffusing confrontation.”
The Red Wolves will look to build off a rare 20-win season a year ago.
David Salmon from THERSday Night joined during the Balado segment and joined Brady and Nick to preview the rest of the teams in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
32:15 Coastal Carolina
35:30 Georgia Southern
37:35/1:21:00 Georgia State
1:27:30 James Madison
1:38:00 UL Monroe
1:45:55 Old Dominion
1:48:10 South Alabama
1:54:50 Southern Mississippi
2:00:10 Texas State
2:03:40 POTY & Championship Preview
Along with the Sun Belt, Mid-Major Madness will preview the Patriot League this week. There will also be articles released on the ASUN and Summit League. Stay tuned for all the previews on midmajormadness.com.