PRESEASON FAVORITE: SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
Coming off a second place finish in the Great American Conference (GAC) and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, Southern Arkansas has been tabbed by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite heading into the 2018 season. The Lady Muleriders received six of the twelve first-place votes, followed closely by Harding (3 first-place votes) and Arkansas Tech (also 3 first-place votes). The full release can be found on the GAC’s website.
Last year, in the super-competitive Central Region, the GAC sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament (Harding and Southern Arkansas). Harding made it to the Central Super Regional (“Sweet 16”) before bowing out to eventual National Champions, Minnesota State, in a tightly contested three-game series. Southern Arkansas will be looking to return to their 2016 form, which saw them make it to the Final Four after falling to that year’s National Champions, North Alabama.
This year looks to be a promising year for the GAC as a number of the nation’s top performers from last year return. And based on the initial poll, four, or maybe even five, teams have a pretty good shot to take the title. The GAC should be one of the best and most highly-contested conferences in Division II this year.