Mailbox Mondays: Where will UALR finish in the Sun Belt this year?

Where do you think UALR will finish in the Sun Belt Conference this year?

First? OK homer pick.

The real answer is likely somewhere between first and sixth. With the departure of Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Florida International and Florida Atlantic, the Sun Belt Conference figured to have a dropoff this year. The reality is that isn't going to happen. At least not this year.

At this point I think you could pick the winner out of a hat including the expected top six in the league: Western Kentucky, South Alabama, UALR, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia State. Throw those six into a hat and draw them out. I don't believe there is a clear-cut favorite. All six appear to be poised for a big season.

Here's where it gets interesting. Expect one of those six to falter (see North Texas last year). And I expect someone not in that top six will make a move. Texas-Arlington was pretty good last year. Texas State has a new, and very good, coach who will make them better. Troy has a new coach that should make them better. And Louisiana-Monroe should be finally getting out of their NCAA sanctions. They could improve.

I expect the Conference RPI to take another step forward this year. And if these teams don't beat up on each other, I think this could be one of the best seasons this conference has seen in a while.