Dates: March 9-12
Location: Garland, TX
Championship Game: March 12th, 7:30 pm, ESPNU
Outlook: Life ain’t easy for the good folks of the SWAC.
They spend the first month and a half of the season on the road, trading 40 point beatdowns for five and six figure checks that subsidize the school’s athletics department. Then after a conference season that no one pays any attention to, the league tournament is played for the right to take another 40 point beatdown as an appetizer for some No. 1 seed. Quite often, that beatdown must be earned with a win in the play-in game.
Texas Southern was the runaway winner of the SWAC’s regular season title, winning the conference by four games. More on the Tigers in a bit.
The interesting part about TSU’s dominance of the league is that they only won four games by double digits. Three came in overtime. Three were by one possession. Two more were four point wins. This league was more competitive than the Tiger’s 16-2 record indicates, which should leave the door open for a team like Jackson State (who lost two games to Texas Southern by a combined seven points), Mississippi Valley State, or Alabama State (both of whom beat TSU this season) to spring an upset.
Player to Watch: Kevin Galloway, Texas Southern
Galloway, whose college career starting at USC and continued at Kentucky, has one of the most intriguing stat lines in the country. He averages 11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 6.2 apg, and … 5.2 t/o’s? When was the last time you saw something like that?
Champion: Texas Southern
Is there really another pick here? They have the league’s best creator/turnover machine in Galloway and the league’s player of the year in big man Travele Jones, who averaged 17.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg in league play. And they also beat Oregon State, who beat USC, who beat Texas, who beat Kansas. I’m pretty sure they are the only team in the SWAC that can make that claim.