With one more victory, Arkansas State will wrap up a first-round bye for next week’s Sun Belt Conference tournament. The Red Wolves (20-9, 11-5) wrap up the league season at Troy, a game on ESPN3 on Thursday and at South Alabama on Saturday.
The Red Wolves can finish no higher than the two seed, but a bad final road swing could drop AState as far down as the six seed.
Thanks to the UALR’s 56-54 victory over Georgia Southern (18-12, 11-6) Monday night, A-State is a game up on the Georgia schools, who play each other Saturday in their league finale at Georgia State (18-11, 8-6). The Red Wolves defeated Georgia State 78-67 on Monday.That is what insures an A-State bye in the tourney is the Red Wolves can win once on their final road trip.
“This is no time to sit around and go wow,’’ said coach Grant McCasland.
With seven straight victories, UT-Arlington (23-6, 13-3) has a two-game lead over the Red Wolves for the league title. The Mavs, the preseason favorite, close the season with trips to UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette.
Also in the picture is Texas State (17-11, 10-6) but the Bobcats likely need a sweep in Louisiana to climb into the top four spots.
The Red Wolves swept the Alabama schools last month in Jonesboro. A-State rallied to defeat Troy 82-80 and struggled in a 74-62 victory over South Alabama.
“We are stepping into Troy, who has guys who can really shoot the basketball and they have beaten people at their place,’’ said McCasland. “And they’ve beaten really good teams. We know what we are about to step into.”
A week from Wednesday, the SBC Tournament begins in New Orleans. The first day seeds 5-12 are paired with the winners advance to play the top four seeds on Friday. The semifinals are on Saturday and the title game is Sunday.