This does feel like a year where the SWAC could have a team that's not only more than pesky, but interesting and likely to miss the First Four. Yes, the league is rated as the worst by every mainstream metric, but the team on top is decent, relatively speaking. Mississippi Valley State went 17-1 in the league and is one of the fastest teams in hoops, averaging 71 possessions per game. The team is coached by Sean Woods, who played on Kentucky's championship team in 1996. Woods could've taken other jobs via Pitino, but he chose to take the scenic, longer route, and now he's running a program with little fanfare and almost zero national attention. You should read his story.
MSVU is defensive-minded, and they're not such a bad offensive-rebounding team, either. That's how they'll get their Ws in the conference tournament. In fact, that's how most SWAC teams tally up wins.
If the Delta Devils don't win, you'd be wise to pick Texas Southern as the team to upset them. Texas Southern has the league's best defense, holding opponents to exactly one point per possession. It's the No. 3 seed, behind Southern, who is a good interior team. But the takeaway is, if the SWAC wants the best representation of a team with a chance to make noise, Mississippi Valley State needs to break through the league bracket this season.
|Mississippi Valley State's Terrence Joyner should lead the Delta Devils to their fifth NCAA tournament. (US Presswire)|
Schedule: Tuesday through Saturday
Title game: Saturday, March 10, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Quincy Roberts, Grambling
- Kelsey Howard, Jackson State
- Savalace Townsend, Texas Southern
- Quinton Doggett, Southern
- Terrence Joyner, Mississippi Valley State
Conference RPI: 32
KenPom.com rating: 33
Sagarin rating: 33
NCAA tournament locks: None
NCAA tournament bubble teams: None
Last NCAA tournament appearances
- Alabama A&M: 2005. Lost in the play-in game to Oakland, 79-69.
- Alabama State: 2011. Lost in the play-in game to Tennessee-San Antonio, 70-61.
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff: 2010. Beat Winthrop in the play-in game, lost to Duke in the first round, 73-44.
- Jackson State: 2007. Lost to Florida in the first round, 112-69.
- Grambling: 0 NCAA appearances.
- Mississippi Valley State: 2008. Lost to UCLA in the first round, 70-29.
- Prairie View: 1998. Lost to Kansas in the first round, 110-52.
- Texas Southern: 2003. Lost in the play-in game to UNC-Asheville, 92-84, in overtime.