By no means is this Bearkat ever going to be a Lumberjack.
By no means is this Bearkat ever going to root for the Lumberjacks over Sam Houston State.
However, when it comes to March Madness, it is not the worst thing if Stephen F. Austin State beats Utah today and succeeds in the NCAA tournament.
It was heartbreaking to watch the Lumberjacks defeat SHSU once again in the Southland Conference championship. Although it would be a lot better to see the Kats in the “Big Dance” rather than rival SFA, no Bearkat should root against SFA but should encourage the Southland Conference representative.
SFA caused waves when the Jacks topped No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth in the second round last season. The Jacks’ run was cut short in the third round to No. 4 University of California-Los Angeles, but that did not stop SFA from putting the SLC on the map.
Eyes turned to the unheard of school, and the Lumberjacks saw ESPN coverage this season after the remarkable performance at the tourney. More analysts stay tuned to what SFA was doing throughout the year and thought the Jacks should have been seeded even higher this year around.
If SFA can repeat a win in the NCAA tournament, it could get even more people to recognize the Lumberjacks and the rest of the SLC. Ideally, other teams in the SLC would begin to garner the talent like SLC Player of the Year Thomas Walkup and his teammates Jacob Parker and Dallas Cameron.
SFA’s head coach Brad Underwood will continue his dominance since taking over at SFA, and this could be the right push to increasing the quality of play from top to bottom in the conference. The SLC could see teams getting better and more competitive these next few years that maybe a second SLC team could sneak into the big tournament without the automatic bid or even find a way to snag a spot in the National Invitation Tournament.
This starts with SFA making a big run beginning today, and from there, the other SLC schools becoming more of a threat to knock the Lumberjacks off next season.
In no way was this year a bad season for the SLC. The Conference saw SHSU, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Northwestern State get invitations into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Four teams in postseason play is a good look for the conference. Throughout the whole season though, it was clearly SFA way on top and the other schools fighting to compete.
A good postseason run by SFA and the other three schools could be what the conference needs to continue to get attention and over time become a dominant mid-major conference.
Even if it is not a “good day to be a Bearkat” if SFA wins today, it will be a good day to be a part of the SLC.