Conference Tournament Primer: SWACPosted by Adam Stillman on March 12th, 2014
Championship Fortnight continues with yet 10 more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the final push of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the O26 tourneys starting are the Southland, SWAC, Mountain West and Atlantic 10.
Dates: March 12-15
Site: Toyota Center (Houston)
What to expect: The most bizarre conference tournament you’ve ever seen. Four of the league’s 10 teams are ineligible for postseason play due to low APR scores yet the SWAC is allowing that quartet to compete in the conference tourney. That means that the eligible team that advances the furthest in the bracket will win the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. In case of a tie — multiple eligible teams advancing to the same round but no further — the highest-seeded team — second-seeded Texas Southern is the leader in the clubhouse — would advance to the Big Dance. Crazy, right? Just imagine how weird it will feel if a team loses in the tournament championship game and still gets to celebrate an NCAA Tournament bid. The SWAC hasn’t won a non-play-in game in the NCAA Tournament since Southern beat Georgia Tech in 1993.
Favorite: Texas Southern. I guess I’ll go with the favorite to make the NCAA Tournament. This is all so confusing. Top-seeded Southern, the team that won a game by 104 points earlier this year, should actually win the SWAC Tournament. But thanks to APR issues, the Jaguars aren’t eligible for the Big Dance. So Texas Southern is the favorite to go dancing.
Darkhorse: Alabama State. The Hornets have won three straight games and own a 79-73 victory over Texas Southern in early February. It’s hard to find a darkhorse in a conference that isn’t any good and only has six teams eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
Who wins: Southern (although Texas Southern will go dancing). The Tigers have won six straight games and handed Southern a 67-64 loss on the road Saturday. Heck, they might even win the tournament and be able to celebrate the automatic bid properly. Texas Southern will almost certainly be a #16 seed and be relegated to a play-in game in Dayton.
Player to watch: Aaric Murray, Texas Southern. This guy’s been all over the map. He started his career at La Salle, playing tow years there while averaging double figures both seasons. He then played for West Virginia in 2012-13, averaging 8.8 ppg. Now on his third stop in Division I, Murray is thriving at Texas Southern. The 6-foot-10 senior center is averaging 21.2 ppg and 7.8 rebounds while connecting on 47.7 percent of his field-goal attempts. The big man even knocks down 3-pointers at a 32 percent clip.
Bubble implications: None.