I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t name a single team -- let alone a single player -- in the SWAC.
Buried at the bottom of the map and the bottom of just about every ranking formula, teams in this league are known more for the ridiculous road trip they take in November and December, playing the role of the Washington Generals as they fund their athletic department by getting waxed night in and night out.
Mississippi Valley State, who won the league by four games and didn’t lose a conference game until the last day of the regular season, is the perfect example. They were 18-12 this season. They went 17-1 in conference play. You do the math
Where: Garland, TX
When: March 7th-March 10th
Final: March 10th, 9 p.m. ESPN2
Favorite: Mississippi Valley State
MVSU is one of the fastest teams in the country. They pressure, they force turnovers and they look to get easy baskets out of it. You want to get a good idea of what kind of team this is? Their head coach played on Rick Pitino’s 1996 Kentucky team. Sean Woods. Read up. Terrence Joyner and Paul Crosby are the leading scorers, but my favorite player is Cor-J Cox. I don’t need to explain why, do I?
And if they lose?: Southern
The Jaguars are one of the better defensive teams in the conference, and while they get hurt because they really struggle on the glass, Southern has a knack for making teams miss. They are 14th nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage. So there’s that.
Sleepers: Texas Southern finished third in the conference this season, but I’m going with Arkansas-Pine Bluff as the sleeper. They have one of the best atheletes in the country in the league’s second-leading scorer, Savalace Townsend, and they are the only SWAC team to beat MVSU.
- Quincy Roberts, Grambling: Roberts is a transfer from St. John’s and leads the conference with 22.7 ppg despite playing for the last place team.
- Savalace Townsend, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Yup, he can jump.