Admittedly I am biased toward the Sun Belt since my twins had great runs for South Alabama cross country in their first D1 runs as freshmen, both placing high as the women won and men finished second.
Such are the dangers of a conference with seven teams that won 20 or more games, and Arlington will need a repeat Player of the Year season from 6-foot-7 Kevin Hervey as well as great point guard play from Erick Neal to regain the conference championship they dominated for years.
Value Add projects Lafayette to win, but with six teams ranking in the top half of all Division 1 schools, this projects as a dangerous conference.
Here is where Value Add ranks each Sun Belt team for the season, and the Massey Rankings rank the football teams against all other schools, led by three top 90 programs.
|Team - 2017 Seed||Hoops||Football|
Here are the top 15 projected players in the conference in order. Subjectively we believe Neal ranks much higher than the third team All-Conference team, as this ranking would indicate. Certain things that ball handlers and perimeter defenders do cannot be measured via stats, and he seems to be one of those cases.
|Top 15 Sun Belt Players||Value Add||School||Ht|
|Kevin Hervey 25||7.67||Texas Arlington||`6-07|
|Bryce Washington 32||6.51||Louisiana Lafayette||`6-06|
|Ike Smith 3||5.91||Georgia Southern||`6-04|
|Jordon Varnado 23||5.80||Troy||`6-06|
|Wesley Person 3||5.74||Troy||`6-03|
|Tookie Brown 4||5.30||Georgia Southern||`5-11|
|Malik Benlevi 2||5.19||Georgia St.||`6-05|
|Frank Bartley 4||5.02||Louisiana Lafayette||`6-03|
|Jaylen Shaw 5||4.78||Coastal Carolina||`6-01|
|Ronshad Shabazz 2||4.10||Appalachian St.||`6-05|
|D'Marcus Simonds 15||3.96||Georgia St.||`6-03|
|Tamas Bruce 32||3.93||Arkansas St.||`6-07|
|Deven Simms 23||3.77||Arkansas St.||`6-04|
|Erick Neal 1||3.70||Texas Arlington||`5-10|
|Nijal Pearson 22||3.38||Texas St.||`6-05|
Ken Pomeroy ranked the Sun Belt 15th of 32 Division 1 basketball conferences, which will all be previewed here with notes on which schools are now "basketball" or "football" schools based on which program is stronger this season. Football revenue is much higher, but programs are much more expensive between equipment and the requirement of matching enough women's scholarships in other sports. Therefore some programs forgo FBS football programs to focus on low cost basketball programs as their biggest revenue sport.
Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and ESPN have lauded Value Add Basketball for estimating the number of points each college basketball players is worth to his team above a replacement player - similar to baseball WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Massey Ratings is used for the football rankings above.