The best part about the first month of the college basketball season is the series of tournaments that while not really mattering at much, gives us, as fans, the matchups that we want to see. The first two months are also riddled with matchups between power conference teams and mid-majors. The SWAC have faced plenty of those top conference teams, but do those matchups lead to predicting success?
Arkansas-Pine Bluff is currently 2-5 with all their losses against two Big Ten teams, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Army. Their wins against Seattle and Southeastern Louisiana are within their conference’s level. Their leading scorer, JoVaughn Love is averaging 11.2 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting. They scored no higher than 72 in a loss to Oklahoma State, where Love scored 21. Where he goes, UAPB goes, but they are expected to finish in the bottom of the SWAC.
Like UAPB, Jackson State is also a two-win team with losses against Oregon and Baylor and are carried by a guard named Paris Collins (16 PPG, on 39.8 FG%). They are expected to be in the middle of the SWAC but has yet to reach 70 points and might not fare that well this season come conference play.
Same goes for Prarie View A&M, who are winless despite even matchups against Bryant and Radford. Mississippi Valley State and Alcon State are winless and the Braves haven’t even faced a power conference team yet. Grambling State has one win but not against a Division I team.
Texas Southern’s closest loss to a power team was its most recent against Washington State, a middling Pac-12 team. They lost to the Cougars by 12 points and they had two players score over 20 points. Senior forwards Malcolm Riley (19.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG) and Chris Thomas (14.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG) have led the Tigers to two NCAA Tournament appearances and have the track record to trust them in conference play regardless of their non-conference results.
Alabama A&M is 5-1 without any power conference matchups. Senior forward Ladarius Tabb was tabbed as a favorite to be the SWAC Player of the Year. So far he is averaging 23.8 points per game and gives the Bulldogs the advantage in virtually every game this season.
Two SWAC teams have victories over power conference teams. Alabama State has a win over Virginia Tech and Southern defeated Mississippi State. Those two teams are favorite to finish as the top two teams in the SWAC standings. It’s no wonder why.