Thursday, March 10, 2005

SWAC Tournament Preview

The Southwestern Athletic Conference, annually one of the worst leagues in the country, did not disappoint this season--if you were looking for the SWAC to be the worst conference in America. Six teams finished above .500 in the league, with one more finishing .500. However, only two teams finished above .500 overall--and those teams were a combined 3 games above .500.
Favorites: Alabama A&M won the league outright, despite losing three of their final four. The Bulldogs are deep with many scoring options. Obie Trotter is the team's best point producer, while Joe Martin is one of the SWAC's best inside players. They lead the league in scoring offense. Alabama State owns the league's top scoring defense, and use up to 12-13 guys per game. Ralfeal Gordon leads the team in scoring and is second in rebounds, while Kevin Spicer paces them in rebounding. Mississippi Valley State ranks in both the Top 5 of the SWAC in offense and defense. They have been up and down all season, but own a win at South Florida earlier in the non-conference year. The Devils have a very good 1-2 punch in Hosea Butler and Solomon Forbes, in addition to five other players that put up over 6 a game.
Sleepers: Southern has the third best offense and second best defense in the conference. Peter Cipriano is second in rebounds in the league, while Chris Alexander is a very tough offensive player. Jackson State has won 9 of their last 13 and are extremely balanced, with 6 guys average over 8 points per game.
Prediction: Alabama A&M won the league's regular season title, but they struggled down the stretch. However, nearly every team in the conference was in a bit of a swoon down the season's wire. I'm going to go with Alabama A&M as a result of Obie Trotter being a solid go-to-player. They will win the conference tournament and get a berth to the play-in game.

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