NEW ORLEANS – One of the nation's top teams highlights the field for the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship as the 27-win Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders earned the No. 1 seed. The league office announced the tournament seeds and schedule Saturday night.
The top-seeded Blue Raiders are one of five teams that will have a first round by in the tournament that will take place in Hot Springs, Arkansas starting Friday, March 8 and running through Monday, March 11. Arkansas State earned the No. 2 seed as the Sun Belt West Division Champions, South Alabama's second most Sun Belt wins puts them in the No. 3 spot, while FIU earned the No. 4 seed and UALR will be the No. 5 seed.
The first round and the quarterfinals of the championship will take place March 8 and 9 with the league utilizing a two court system as games will be played in Summit Arena and the Convention Center Court. The semifinals and championship game will be played exclusively in Summit Arena.
The first round games can be viewed exclusively on www.sunbeltsports.org as the Sun Belt Digital Network will webcast those games. The quarterfinal games taking place in Summit Arena will be aired on the Sun Belt Network, while the Convention Center Court quarterfinals will be shown on Sun Belt Digital Network. Both semifinal matchups will be aired on the Sun Belt Network with the championship match being broadcast nationally on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT (the championship game was originally announced to air on ESPN2).
Tickets for the tournament are available through www.ticketmaster.com and the Summit Arena box office (501.620.5003).
Championship Seeds (SBC Records in Parentheses)
1. *&Middle Tennessee (19-1, 0.950)
2. *&Arkansas State (12-8, 0.600)
3. &South Alabama (14-6, 0.700)
4. &FIU (11-9, 0.550)^
5. &UALR (11-9, 0.550)
6. WKU (10-10, 0.500)
7. Florida Atlantic (9-11, 0.450)
8. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-12, 0.400)
9. North Texas (7-13, 0.350)
10. Troy (6-14, 0.300)
11. Louisiana-Monroe (3-17, 0.150)
^ - FIU and UALR split their season series. Both teams were then defeated twice by No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee. FIU won both games in its series with No. 2 seed Arkansas State, while UALR split its two games in its series with Arkansas State, therefore FIU is awarded the No. 4 seed.
* - Division Champion
& - Earned first-round bye
Championship Schedule of Events
Friday, March 8
Game 1 - No. 6 WKU vs. No. 11 Louisiana-Monroe – 6 p.m. (Summit Arena)
Game 2 - No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 9 North Texas - 6:30 p.m. (Convention Center Court)
Game 3 - No. 7 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 10 Troy – 8:30 p.m. (Summit Arena)
Saturday, March 9
Game 4 - No. 4 FIU vs. No. 5 UALR - 6:00 p.m. (Convention Center Court)
Game 5 - No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. Winner Game 2 - 6:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Game 6 - No. 3 South Alabama vs. Winner Game 1 – 8:30 p.m. (Convention Center Court)
Game 7 - No. 2 Arkansas State vs. Winner Game 3 - 9:00 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Sunday, March 10
Game 8 - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 - 6:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Game 9 - Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7 - 9:00 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Monday, March 11
Championship Game - Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9 - 6:00 p.m. (ESPN – Summit Arena)