March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the SWAC Tournament.
#1 Prairie View vs. #8 Alabama A&M
#4 Jackson State vs. #5 Alcorn State
#3 Texas Southern vs. #6 Grambling
#2 Southern U vs. #7 Alabama State
Who will win the SWAC Tournament?
Aram: #1 Prairie View (18-13, 14-4 in the SWAC)
Prairie View had a TOUGH out of conference schedule that included games against Seton Hall, Texas, Arizona State, Colorado, UCF and Cal. That is the reason for their sub-par 18-13 overall record. In conference though, they had a fantastic year up until their last two losses on the road to end the year. I believe Gerard Andrus, Devonte Patterson, and company will be able to lead this squad back to the NCAA Tournament.
Pat: #1 Prairie View (18-13, 14-4 in the SWAC)
The Panthers were impressive during conference play, and despite ending the season with a pair of losses, did enough to grab the one seed with a 14-4 record. While you never want to lose, their can sometimes be an advantage playing someone very soon after a loss since you are the team that needs to make adjustments that the winning team hasn’t seen yet. Prairie View just ended the season with a loss to #2 seed Southern, and if they indeed meet Southern in the championship game, that loss may actually help out.
TJ: #2 Southern U (16-15, 13-5 in the SWAC)
Southern has won their last seven and are locked into the second seed for the SWAC tournament behind only Prairie View A&M. Southern is a fascinating team to cover and may be the ultimate TEAM. They have 10 guys who averaged double digit minutes. No one on the team has also averaged over ten points per game on the year. The scouting report on them has to be deep because of all the guys who play you need to know about. Coach Sean Woods has made quick work turing around the program as they won only seven games last year and they’ve won more than that since February this year.
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #5 Alcorn State (15-14, 11-7 in the SWAC)
Alcorn State finished the regular season with wins against 3rd seed Texas Southern and top seed Prairie View. If anyone is going to pull off a run and challenge Prairie View, I believe it is them, a team that has 3 players averaging over 12 points per game and shooting above 80% from the line on the season. Always believe in teams that can hit their shots from the charity stripe.
Pat: #3 Texas Southern (15-16, 12-6 in the SWAC)
The Tigers always do a great job of testing themselves in the non conference slate not caring about how many games they lose, but it makes them a better team and pays off in the long run. This battle tested Texas Southern squad won’t back away from a challenge, and have the talent to make a title run.
TJ: #4 Jackson State (14-17, 11-7 in the SWAC)
Jackson State has the look of a team that could do some damage. They have a few conference wins with a margin of victory over 15 points including a home win over Alcorn State in which they won by 29. It also happens to be a coincidence that Alcorn is their quarterfinal matchup this year. They are led by the guard duo of Tristan Jarrett and Roland Griffin.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Devonte Patterson, Seophomore F – Prairie View
Devonte Patterson just had 33 points last week and he’s playing some of his best basketball as of late. NBA teams would absolutely need to see him showcase an improved shot, but he’s a high usage player that is very exciting to watch.
Pat: Jayveous McKinnis, Sophomore F – Jackson State
The 6’7 sophomore forward is really athletic and can have a huge impact on the game any time he suits up. Leading the league in rebounding, blocks, and field goal percentage, McKinnis is a problem when he gets going and will be key for the Tigers if they make a run.
TJ: Jayveous McKinnis, Sophomore F – Jackson State
Can I get some love for my guy Snacks? The recent SWAC player of the week has a defensive rating of 108.9 on sports reference and per-40 averages of 60 points per game on 20 made threes.
All fun aside I’m also choosing Jackson State forward Jayveous McKinnis here. He is almost averaging a double double on the year and has some impressive performances this year including a recent 11 point and 20 rebound game against Mississippi Valley State University. McKinnis stands at 6’7 with some nice explosive ability to go up and get rebounds. He needs to improve his touch around the rim and his ability to knock down shots from the line, but he’s someone to monitor.