Stephen F. Austin favorite to win Southland Men’s Basketball Championship

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The Lumberjacks earn 14 first-place votes in the Southland preseason poll; Six teams receive at least one first-place vote

HOUSTON – Stephen F. Austin is tabbed to win the 2017-18 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Regular Season Championship, according to the preseason poll voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The conference announced the poll Monday at the start of Southland Basketball Social Media Day in Houston.

The Lumberjacks garnered 14 first-place votes and 268 points, beating out Lamar by 34 points, to take the top slot in the 13-team league. The Cardinals received the second-most first-place votes with five. Four other teams also received first-place votes: Southeastern Louisiana (3), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2), Sam Houston State (1) and New Orleans (1).

Last season, SFA finished tied for second in the regular-season standings and entered the Southland tournament as the No. 4 seed, losing in the semifinal round 77-69 to eventual champion New Orleans. It was the first time in four years the ‘Jacks had not qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

They return eight letterwinners, including Preseason All-Conference First Team selection T.J. Holyfield. The junior forward from Albuquerque, N.M., led his team in scoring (11.7 points per game), rebounding (7.2 rebounds per game) and blocked shots (39).

LU will look to senior forward Colton Weisbrod to lead the team following a season that saw the Cardinals finish tied for fifth in conference standings. The Preseason First-Team All-Conference member ranked in the top six for scoring (16.7) and rebounding (7.7) in league games last season.

The Lions edged the Islanders by five points for the third-place slot. The Bearkats earned 192 points to place fifth and the defending-Southland champion Privateers are picked to finish sixth.

Now eligible for all NCAA and Southland postseason tournaments, Abilene Christian is tabbed to take seventh in conference while Northwestern State rounds out the top eight.

Houston Baptist took the ninth-place slot by three points over Nicholls. Central Arkansas, UIW and McNeese are picked to finish 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively.

The preseason poll is voted upon by the head coach and sports information director from each Southland school. Ranking one’s own school is not permitted.

The announcement tips off Southland Conference Basketball Social Media Day at the Toyota Center, where all 26 head coaches from the league’s men’s and women’s programs will preview their upcoming season, beginning at 9:15 a.m. CT today. Coaches will participate in Q&A sessions, media interviews, social media activities and unique one-on-one segments with women’s basketball Hall-of-Famer Van Chancellor. Social Media Day can be followed on the Southland’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts and will air on ESPN3 tonight at 6 p.m.

2017-18 Southland Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

Pl. School (First-place votes) Total
1. Stephen F. Austin (14) 268
2. Lamar (5) 234
3. Southeastern Louisiana (3) 209
4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2) 204
5. Sam Houston State (1) 192
6. New Orleans (1) 178
7. Abilene Christian 172
8. Northwestern State 130
9. Houston Baptist 119
10. Nicholls 116
11. Central Arkansas 108
12. UIW 56
13. McNeese 42
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