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OPINION: Cajuns will need Sun Belt Tournament Win to Qualify for - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

OPINION: Cajuns will need Sun Belt Tournament Win to Qualify for NCAA Tournament

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When Selection Sunday (3/11) rolls around are the Cajuns in or out?

If we don’t know, before CBS begins unveiling their brackets, the hard truth is that Louisiana is probably on the outside looking in.

Louisiana is as good as it’s ever been. The team is deep, five players average nine or more points-per-game. (Frank Bartley 17.3, JaKeenan Gant 14.7, Jonathan Stove 11.1, Bryce Washington 10.6, Malik Marquetti 9.1)

The team is ranked inside the top-25 in the country in rebounds-per-game (25) assists-per-game (6) scoring margin (8) and free-throws made (18.)

The Cajuns also features one of the nation’s best rebounders in Bryce Washington (10.6 RPG,) block leaders in JaKeenan Gant (2.48 BPG) and leading assist men in Marcus Stroman (6.4 APG.) Each of those are in the top-25 in their respected categories.

There are tournament bound teams that wish they could say all of this.

But when Selection Sunday rolls around Louisiana will need to have its golden ticket in hand.

The problem with the Cajuns at-large resume is its lack of good wins. The win over Iowa was the program’s first over a power five school since 2002, but the Hawkeyes have struggled. They’re 3-13,12-17 and dead last in the Big Ten.

Iowa’s RPI is 145, Nicholls’ RPI is 144. By RPI, the Cajuns’ win over Nicholls is their best of the season. That will speak volumes when the committee looks at bubble teams. Strength of schedule won’t bail them out either, Louisiana is ranked 175th.

The Cajuns’ losses against Wyoming and Ole Miss could actually be the difference in dancing or not.  Neither team is likely heading to the tournament, but winning those early season match-ups makes the team 25-2 right now, and we'd probably be having a different conversation. The NCAA selection committee won’t likely look at those games and think about the challenges of assimilating a trio of transfers into the lineup that early in the year, no matter how true that is. If Louisiana played against those teams right now, the Cajuns would win.

Are the Cajuns better than that? Sure. Absolutely. No Doubt. Louisiana is a team that can win a tournament game, but do so will probably take a few Sun Belt tournaments wins first.

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