Checking in on the… SWAC & MEACPosted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2009
JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences. With the end of the regular season imminent, both conference wrap-ups are below this week.
And so it is nearly finished. A final act for the SWAC conference that is low on team talent, but with a few programs that have a legitimate shot of scoring more than 29 points against the number one seed in the national tournament.
Alabama State paces the conference, and is poised to eclipse 19 wins for the second-consecutive season. On their heels is Jackson State, with just two conference losses on the year and one courtesy of Alabama State.
THIS SEASON - Each of the SWAC teams travels a rough road to head into conference play, and these guaranteed games have taken a toll on their legs, their spirits and the conference RPI. And while there is no hope beyond the play-in seeding, what hurts more than the lack of rank respect is the SWAC’s dependence on money games to function at the D-I level.
It’s a cycle that doesn’t appear soon to end.
- For perennial conference favorite Alabama State to be among the top teams in conference bodes well for the SWAC, as the Hornets are the only legitimate basketball brand in a conference that could care less about the sport.
- Regular facetime on ESPNU certainly helped promote the SWAC’s standing in Division I basketball.
- Two words – guaranteed games.
- The lack of conference parity really hurts. Six out of ten teams below .500 in conference play? Ouch.
- Alabama State @ Jackson State – Thursday, March 5 – Depending on what happens through the other remaining games, this could be the separation game between a 1 and 2 seed for the Hornets and Tigers.
As it begun, so it will conclude. Morgan State came in the the season as the favorite for the MEAC championship crown, and they will conclude the year with their second regular season championship in two years.
The MEAC finishes as one of the most intriguing mid-major conferences that no one has heard about. They are guaranteed a tournament berth, but a late-season loss to Hampton probably bumped a Morgan State tourney seeding from 15 to 16. Add to the mix a streaking defending MEAC champion Coppin State and a surprise North Carolina A&T set to shine in their own back yards in the Winston-Salem-based conference tournament, and you have a set-up for the ages in the MEAC.
THIS SEASON - The complete opposite of the SWAC, the MEAC has a number of teams that are upset-capable in tournament play. Norfolk State, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman all emerged as serious title contenders. And the conference and its fans were the beneficiaries of this parity.
- Several solid teams stationed throughout the geographic make-up of the MEAC (Morgan, Coppin St., North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman) should make for positive attendance at the conference tournament, and for a heightened conference profile in the 09-10 season.
- Howard University and the University of Maryland Eastern-Shore both double their conference win totals from a year ago. Parity is always a good thing for RPI and rivalry building.
- The MEAC is a basketball conference, but the conference doesn’t know it. Throughout the year, MEAC officials do an ineffective job at marketing the tournament and players for national recognition. The MEAC could really learn a lesson from Division II counterpart CIAA, who hosts one of the largest basketball tournaments in the country at any division.
- Aside from Hampton and Morgan State, you’d be hard pressed to find a MEAC team that could upset a comparable mid-major opponent. That’s the next step for the MEAC to build its national profile.
- Morgan State @ Coppin State – Thursday, March 5 – Baltimore’s version of Duke-North Carolina, it’s a battle between number 1 and number 3 in the MEAC just before conference tourney play.