Kats Face Tough Road in Southland Conference Tournament, Begin Play Wednesday

The Sam Houston State Bearkat men’s basketball team finds themselves in a position that they did not think they would be in at the start of the season. The Bearkats are in a position where they will need to win four games in four days to win the Southland Conference and get into the NCAA tournament.

Just over a month ago, the Bearkats, who were the preseason favorites to win the conference, were riding an eight game win streak and looked primed to run through the SLC regular season.

However, on Feb. 4, following a win over rival Stephen F. Austin, the Bearkats went on the road and lost 71-64 to the Abilene Christian Wildcats. The loss was the start of a string of bad play, as the Kats winning momentum died and the losing started. SHSU went on to lose six of their last eight games and now face a tough road in the conference tournament. One could argue that this team would be lucky to get out of the first round of the SLC tournament, but the Bearkats will have to rediscover their form quickly if they want to win four games in four days for the right to call themselves SLC tournament champions.

The Bearkats have a very difficult road to the crown. Their tournament run starts today at 5 p.m. against the eight seed Central Arkansas Bears.  If the Bearkats were to win that game, they would play tomorrow against the fourth seeded Houston Baptist Huskies, a team that has already beaten the Bearkats twice this season, both by double digits.

If the Bearkats could win that one, then the team would advance to take on the New Orleans Privateers, who were the regular season conference champions in the semi-finals. Also in that game the Bearkats would be playing their third game in three days, while New Orleans’ double bye would have them well rested for the semi-finals.

Lastly, if they were to reach the conference championship game, the Bearkats would likely face the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, who have won 10 of their last 11 games and have the best player in the conference with senior forward Rashawn Thomas. The only other plausible opponent would be SFA.

The Bearkats have a tough, but not impossible road to navigate. Winning four games in four days will be difficult, but the Bearkats are talented and do get a relatively easy start to the tournament with the bottom seeded Bears.

The Bearkats will need to rediscover their midseason form in order to win, but it is March, and if this month has shown us anything in the past, it is that anything can happen in between the lines at this time of the year.

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