SWAC Tournament Preview
I don’t imagine there is big demand for a SWAC tournament preview but I don’t give a damn. These kids are fighting for a chance to be apart of the best tournament in the world and deserve some shine. even if it is on some random blog. There are a pair of quality teams and then a gap between them and the rest of the league. Prairie View and Texas Southern are the top two teams. Most people know Texas Southern for playing the brutal road filled schedule to open each season. This year the Tigers were able to knock off Baylor, Oregon, and Texas A&M. Due to APR issues, Alabama A&M is ineligible for the postseason and will be excluded
2018 Champion: Texas Southern
1-seed Prairie View A&M Panthers 19-12 (17-1)
Despite poor 3-point shooting all season, the Panthers have won the regular season title in comfortable fashion. This team is capable of winning the league because they’ve done nothing but win since conference play began. Their star Gary Blackston will get his, they need a consistent 2nd scoring threat and they will dance.
2-seed Texas Southern Tigers 19-12 (14-4)
This team has been there and done that, they’ve won 4 of the past 5 league tournaments. They’re always battle tested as I alluded to above with their brutal non-conference schedule every season. This team’s key is guard play. They have two strong bigs in Jeremy Combs and Trayvon Reed (when he plays). The guards need to focus on ball control and make giving the big men space to go to work.
3-seed Jackson State Tigers 13-18 (10-8)
The alma mater of Sweetness, Walter Payton comes in as the 3rd worst 3-point shooting team in the entire country. Only Coppin State and Rhode Island shoot it worse than the Tigers. Must be something about the name because the Tigers of Jackson State are also a strong defensive team. They struggle to put the ball in the hoop, as we see with their 3-point percentage. It is imperative that they get run outs and easy buckets otherwise this team is in trouble.
4-seed Grambling Tigers 16-15 (10-8)
Surprise, someone in this league actually plays solid defense. The Tigers are the best in the conference on the defensive end of the floor. In another surprise, this team shoots it over 40% from 3 as well. For Grambling it is simple, if they can turn their defense into offense at a more consistent rate, they can win the league.
5-seed Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 13-18 (10-8)
If KenPom luck means anything, then UAPB will have a shot at the automatic bid. The Golden Lions are right around 50th in the country in terms of luck. This is another school with cool logo with the letters UAPB hidden in the lion’s mane. Another cool fact about this team is that they have an absolute baller in Martaveous McKnight who does it all for this team. He will need to be great in this tournament to get his team to the tournament, but he is capable of doing it.
6-seed Alabama State Hornets 11-18 (9-9)
The numbers aren’t pretty for the Hornets, but they’ve still found ways to win games and that is what it takes in these high pressure, single elimination tournaments. Junior guard Reginald Gee is their best player and shoots it above 40% from both the field and the 3-point line. That is big for a team that doesn’t stroke it well as a whole. They need to find consistent half court offense and play at their tempo.
7-seed Southern Jaguars 7-24 (6-12)
Another team near the bottom of the nation in most statistical categories, the Jaguars have a steep climb to compete with the best. Their biggest issue is turnovers. You can’t give the ball away 16 times a game and expect to win. Cut the turnovers down drastically and string some stops together and they could steal a couple games.
8-seed Alcorn State Braves 10-20 (6-12)
Forcing turnovers is a good thing, Alcorn State is capable of doing that as they average nearly 8 steals a night. They will need to do significantly more of that and turn those into easy transition buckets. Maurice Howard is a player capable of taking over a game and the Braves will rely on him heavily. 8-
Prairie View over Alcorn State
Grambling over UAPB
Texas Southern over Southern
Jackson State ove Alabama State
Prairie View over Grambling
Texas Southern over Jackson State
Texas Southern over Prairie View