JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC conferences.
Predicted Order of Finish:
- Alabama State (20-11) (15-3)
- Jackson State (14-20) (10-8)
- Miss. Valley State (17-16) (12-6)
- Southern (11-19) (9-9)
- Alabama A&M (14-15) (11-7)
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff (13-18) (8-10)
- Grambling State (7-19) (7-11)
- Prairie View A&M (8-22) (6-12)
- Texas Southern (7-25) (6-12)
- Alcorn State (7-24) (6-12)
What You Need to Know (WYN2K). The SWAC Conference has long been the laughingstock of Division I basketball. They are the perennial #16 seed in the national tournament (nine straight years), and are generally viewed as a warm-up for the number one team in the nation in their quest for the Final Four. Last year the league champion, Mississippi Valley St., set a record for worst FG% (19.7%) in an NCAA Tournament game en route to 29 total points against UCLA. The SWAC is a casualty of out-of-conference guaranteed games, limited resources and a sports audience that knows it by its alias, “Who is North Carolina playing in the first game?”
Predicted Champion. Alabama State University (#16 Seed NCAA). The Hornets finished with the SWAC’s regular-season championship, a closer-than-expected loss in the opening round of the N.I.T., and a whole lotta media coverage for their center, Chief Kickingstallionsims.
Others Considered. Jackson State University returns two of the conference’s top-ten leading scorers in Grant Maxey and Darrion Griffin, and Southern University was the SWACs best three-point shooting team and among its best defensive units.
Games to Watch. No reason to pretend that SWAC regular season games have national interest, but here’s a few contests that basketball purists will enjoy.
- Jackson State vs. Alabama State (01.3.09). It’s the rematch from the 2008 SWAC tournament, with Alabama State hosting the Tigers who upset them in the semi-final.
- Southern vs. Mississippi Valley State (02.16.09). If the Jaguars continue their hot-shooting ways from the 07-08 season, this game could have tournament seeding implications for the favored Delta Devils.
RPI Booster Games. Arizona State had a close call in the 2008 N.I.T. against Alabama State, and while it won’t be close at home against the Delta Devils, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
- Mississippi Valley State @ Arizona State (11.14.08)
Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. Not gonna happen. No need to pretend.
Neat-o Stat. Joel Bosh, a standout forward for the Alabama State Hornets last season, was invited to participate with the Toronto Raptors summer league team. If the name sounds familiar, it should be; he is the brother of NBA all-star and gold medal Olympian Chris Bosh.
65-Team Era. The SWAC is 4-28 all-time in the NCAA Tourney, and the last time a SWAC team won a game was in 1993, when Southern University defeated Georgia Tech.
Final Thought. The way to be a fan of SWAC basketball is not to look solely at wins and losses, but to look at the historical place of the conference and how hard they are working to get better. Or, you could just not watch at all.