Expect a free-for-all in the Sun Belt Conference men's tournament in Hot Springs

   No doubt Louisiana-Lafayette's eight consecutive Sun Belt Conference victories have made it the favorite in the postseason tournament next month in Hot Springs. But it's not as if the Ragin' Cajuns are just blowing everyone away. They're making the key plays at the key times to pull out these games. And that's been the story of the Sun Belt as a whole this year.
   Consider this: Louisiana-Lafayette's average margin of victory in the nine games its won has been just 4.6 points. Four of those victories came by three points or fewer and another one (a six-point victory over South Alabama) came in overtime.
   That, in and of itself, is the reason the Sun Belt Tournament appears to be a free-for-all this year.
   But consider that then-West Division leader Denver got knocked off at home by South Alabama, the fifth place team in the East, on Sunday. And that East Division leader Florida Atlantic needed overtime to win against sixth-place team Florida International on Saturday.
   The current West Division standings have Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Denver all tied for first with UALR 1.5 games back.
   It's reminiscent of the tournament when it was held in Lafayette a few years ago. East favorites Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee got upset early in the tournament and West co-division champ Louisiana-Monroe did as well. That left North Texas, which finished third in its division, to beat co-division champ Arkansas State in the championship game.