DENTON (11/16/06) The Johnny Carino’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament is set to begin with one of the most balanced fields in the tournament’s history. The host Mean Green will hit the court as the No. 4 overall seed against New Orleans at 7:30 p.m.
Six of the eight teams in the field have posted at least 20 wins on the season, and seven teams put up at least 12 conference wins.
The day will open up at noon with the No. 1 seeded Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders against the No. 8 Florida Atlatntic Owls. The Owls swept the Blue Raiders in Boca Raton in their last meeting.
The second match of the day, at 2:30 p.m., will match up the upstart No. 3 seeded Florida International against the No. 6 seed, Arkansas State. The Golden Panthers are led by conference freshman of the year, Yarimar Rosa. Rosa ranks seventh in the nation in kills per game with 5.37. FIU took a late-October win over the Lady Indians in Jonesboro in the team’s only meeting.
Defending-champion Western Kentucky hits the court at 5 pm to take on seventh-seeded Denver. The Lady Toppers have made each tournament final dating back to 2001, including two titles in that span. The Pioneers fell just one game shy of the SBC West division crown and senior Lisa Hunter will look to lead Denver to its second win over WKU this season. The Pioneers dropped the Lady Toppers 3-1 in Denver in the team’s only meeting.
Finally, the nightcap will be a grudge match between the Mean Green and New Orleans. The team’s split this season’s two matches, with each winning via sweep on its home floor. The two squads were set to share the division title before UNO dropped its final match to Arkansas State in Jonesboro. NT will be looking for only its second ever conference tournament win. UNO is playing in its first tournament since 2004, after the majority of 2005 was canceled due to Hurricane Katrina.
Each SBC Tournament match will be streamed online.
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