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Sometimes, an awful non-conference record isn’t so bad

Sean Woods

Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods reacts to a call during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. Florida defeated Mississippi Valley State 82-54. (AP Photo/ Phil Sandlin)


Kentucky isn’t the only unbeaten team in conference play. Mississippi Valley State sports a 15-0 SWAC record. Not so coincidentally, the Delta Devils also sport a 15-game win streak.

Hey, that’s one of the benefits of playing a brutal non-conference schedule with a roster populated by mostly seniors and juniors. When you play at the likes of North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Northwestern and Ole Miss, those guys are either gonna thrive or sink.

Sean Woods’ team did the former. In a big way.

They clinched the SWAC with Monday’s win vs. Texas Southern and have three more games before a perfect league record can be marked down. Don’t expect any letting up though, as Jeff Borzello writes at

Mississippi Valley State can’t rest on its laurels, of course. While the Delta Devils want to finish the regular-season undefeated, all that matters is what happens during the four days in Garland, Texas at the SWAC tournament.

If MVSU doesn’t win the automatic bid, the unbelievable turnaround and winning streak will all be for naught. Woods is clearly aware of that.

“We’re the hunted now, not the hunter,” he said. “You have to stay consistent in doing what got you there. We’ve had it thus far, but we’ve got to make shots. We haven’t shot the ball as well as we normally do.”

This kind of run isn’t new to SWAC teams, either.

Jackson State started 0-10 two years ago, then closed on a 19-1 run. Amazingly, it missed out on the NCAA tournament bid when Arkansas-Pine Bluff – after an 0-11 start – won the conference tournament.

If the Delta Devils do clinch the NCAA bid, it’ll be the definition of hard-earned.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.