Sunday, March 5, 2017

Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament preview

This is part 17 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Texas Southern 16-2
Alcorn St 13-5
Southern 10-8
Prairie View A&M 10-8
Grambling 10-8
Jackson St 10-8
Mississippi Valley St 7-11
Alabama St 6-12
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6-12
Alabama A&M 2-16

Tournament format:
Only top 8 make it.  Quarterfinals are Tuesday March 7 at campus sites, then the semis and final March 10/11 Fri/Sat in Houston.

The matchups:
1) Texas Southern vs. 8) Alabama St
4) Prairie View A&M vs. 5) Grambling
3) Southern vs. 6) Jackson St
2) Alcorn St vs. 7) Mississippi Valley St

The stakes:
SWAC beat someone in conference RPI this year!  They beat the MEAC, so they're all the way up to #31 of 32, their highest ranking in years.  Needless to say, any non-Texas Southern champion is headed to Dayton.

But is TSU themselves going there?  Probably not!  TSU sits at RPI 121, thanks to a non-con SoS of 15.  Their RPI is actually going to be in good shape, they're going to beat 4 conference champs in that metric.  However, the committee could look at the conference ranking instead and give that precedence.  So I won't say TSU is a lock to avoid Dayton, but it's more likely than not that they do.

Your fun wrinkle.  Alcorn St is APR'd and ineligible for the postseason.  Why they're lurking in this tournament, god knows why.  In CIT news, Grambling needs 2 wins to be eligible for that.

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