Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
1 Prairie View A&M vs 8 Mississippi Valley State
5 Southern def. 4 Grambling State
3 Texas Southern def. 6 Alcorn State
2 Jackson State def. 7 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
1 Prairie View A&M def. 5 Southern
2 Jackson State def. 3 Texas Southern
2 Jackson State def. 1 Prairie View A&M
As one of two teams undefeated in SWAC play, Jackson State is one of the favorites to win the tournament. They have the best floor defense allowing conference lows in shooting field goal percentage and three-point percentage. The Tigers are also tied for the lead in rebounding margin allowing another conference-low 31.5 rebounds per game. Getting to the finals shouldn’t be much of an issue but a finals matchup versus the Prairie View Panthers could pose a challenge. Jackson State is looking for their first SWAC finals appearance since 2007.
There is a steep drop off in conference record from 13-0 Prairie View to 6-7 Alcorn State. If any first round underdog is prepared to pull an upset it’s the Braves. There are two key stat categories that can make or break games in which Alcorn State excels: free throw shooting and turnover margin. The Braves attempt 20 free throws per game on average and make them at about a 76% clip. They also have the second best turnover margin due to their conference-low 12.8 turnovers per game. The top teams haven’t left a ton of room for surprise contenders but the Braves stand a slight chance to succeed.
Matchup to Watch
Prairie View A&M vs Jackson State
Here’s a rare one: the top two seeds are undefeated in conference play after not playing each other at all. Both games between the Panthers and Tigers were postponed. Jackson State guard Tristan Jarrett was named SWAC Player of the Year after averaging a conference-high 22 points per game. Prairie View is led by Jawaun Daniels who averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds per game. Both squads are strong defensively allowing fewer than 60 points per game to conference foes. Even though a 16 seed in the Big Dance may be all that’s at stake, this is the premier matchup in the SWAC.
Featured Image courtesy of pvpanthers.com
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