JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC conferences.
In case you hadn’t heard, the SWAC is probably the worst Division I conference in America. March Madness usually equates to regional sadness for their conference champion, as a season of hard work, long bus trips and endless hours of practice culminates with the 64th overall seed in the national tournament.
But don’t let that stop you from keeping up with SWAC and its member schools. After all, you’ll impress your friends come March when you give them five keys North Carolina better watch out for in their opening-round tournament game.
The SWAC is a combined 1-19 thus far. The sole win was a Prairie View A&M victory over Champion Baptist College, a powerhouse independent who earned third place in the 2007 Association of Christian College Athletics championship. As for notable power conference opponents who rolled over SWAC competition and cut the check, UCLA, Arizona State, Oklahoma, LSU and Colorado are just a few.
- Seven out of the ten SWAC teams are averaging more than four made three-pointers per game. If that trend continues, you can look for the SWAC to be more than a cakewalk in the national tournament.
- Seven teams are also defending the perimeter well, allowing less than 40 percent from the arc. They may give up a lot in the paint, but SWAC teams are proving athletic and energetic at the guard and small forward positions.
- Jackson State as a team is averaging better than 81 percent from the free throw line. The next best charity stripe team percentage is 65 percent. Ouch.
- Two teams in the SWAC have played at least four games so far. Prairie View’s average margin of defeat is a single point, while 2007 SWAC champion Mississippi Valley State is losing by an average of 29 points per game. Talk about disparity.
Here are a few of the upcoming key match-ups for SWAC teams. And by key match-ups, we mean guaranteed games that will seem degrading at the final buzzer, but will go along way in preparation for regular season competition.
- Jackson State @ Texas A&M – Friday, Nov. 21 – It’s likely you haven’t heard of Grant Maxey, but if you want to see a potential 2010 free agent steal, this is the guy you want to watch. Tough in the paint, reliable on the perimeter, and a solid defender, Maxey is likely a Player of the Year candidate in the SWAC. In his opening game against LSU, he tallied 13 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of work. More impressively, he only collected two fouls on the night.
- Alabama A&M @ Alabama – Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Bulldog freshman forward Casey Cantey is one to watch in this game. On a roster with heavy production from its guards, the Demopolis, AL, native finished his debut with 11 points and eight rebounds. At 6’5″, he can likely be the Bulldogs most versatile defender and a great second scoring option to junior guard Trant Simpson, who scored 23 in the season opener against Oakwood College.