The Southland Conference Tournament continues on Friday in Texas at the Merrell Center. As I’ve said several times before regarding the Southland, this is a wide open conference that could be won by a few different teams. There’s always the chance for an upset as well. The Sam Houston State Bearkats, who had a productive regular season, were chased out of the tournament against the Lamar Cardinals last night.
Lamar finished seventh in the regular season standings, while Sam Houston State felt good at third. However, when the games are played in the conference tournament, it’s a brand new season for everybody. Sam Houston State didn’t get the memo, and they were upset against Lamar, 70-69. Lamar has looked good, and they may be the upset team I was just talking about to win the Southland. Still alive in the conference is the Nicholls State Colonels and the Abilene Christian Wildcats.
That’s the No. 1 and No. 2 teams seeds in the Southland, so two dangerous squads loom for Lamar. Nicholls State goes into Friday with a record of 17-6 and 13-2 in the conference. They are on a seven-game winning streak, and wrapped up the season in fine form on the road against a decent McNeese State team. Nicholls State, who are effective on both sides of the floor, pulled away for a 80-67 win on the road.
Northwestern State wasn’t afforded a free trip to this round. They had a conference tournament matchup against New Orleans, a game the Demons obviously won. It was close, though, as Northwestern State edged New Orleans out by a score of 82-79. That game went as expected, with the No. 4 seed winning a close one versus the No. 5 seed. Northwestern State needs a big upset on Friday night. They finished the regular season with a record of 11-17 and 9-7 in the conference. Head below for our free Northwestern State vs. Nicholls State pick on March 12, 2021.
Northwestern State Demons vs. Nicholls State Colonels Southland Tournament Betting Odds:
Northwestern State vs. Nicholls State Prediction:
Northwestern State has to be feeling good off two wins going into this monster matchup against Nicholls State. They beat Central Arkansas, 79-70, and New Orleans, 82-79. How impressive is failing to beat Central Arkansas and New Orleans by double digits, though? Central Arkansas were the lowest seed in the tournament, and finished the regular season with a record of 5-19 and 4-12 in the Southland. New Orleans is better, but still a below .500 team at 10-15 overall.
Northwestern State is going to be pressed into duty versus a much better Nicholls State squad on Friday night. The Colonels were the most complete team in the Southland on both sides of the ball. They had a consistent and efficient offense through the regular season. Nicholls State ranks 32nd in the NCAA with an average of 79.4 points scored per game. They shoot the ball well at a 46.1% clip. Helping them out has been their ability to grab offensive rebounds. Nicholls State is 55th in the country in offensive rebounding.
This is how Nicholls State could pull away from Northwestern State. The Demons have struggled to grab defensive boards. They are 336th in the NCAA in that regard, and against a Nicholls State team that can be physical in the paint offensively, second chance points is likely going to come back to hurt them badly in this one. The defense as a whole has been pretty shabby for the Demons. They’ve conceded 79.4 points per game for 334th, and teams are shooting 47.2% against Northwestern State.
Through the Colonels’ previous five games, they’ve racked up 86.6 points per game. That includes a big performance against Northwestern State on March 1. Nicholls State covered with ease by a score of 87-71 against the Demons in that meeting. On a neutral court, I suspect this final score to be closer. Having said that, 7.5 points on a hot Nicholls State team seems more than manageable to cover. I like Nicholls State to win 81-70 and advance in the Southland Tournament.