Monday was both a huge day and a quiet day in sports.
With no other sport besides college basketball doing anything notable, the hoops world had the day to itself. And that meant the SWAC could finally take center stage.
All 10 SWAC schools played their league openers on Monday, so fans could finally forget the bloodbath of the non-conference and watch their teams play against similar competition.
Alabama A&M 71, Grambling 64
Arkansas Pine Bluff 80, Mississippi Valley State 71
Prairie View A&M 76, Alcorn State 64
Jackson State 82, Alabama State 73
Texas Southern 78, Southern 66
(I’d put the standings here too, but we’re only a game in. The teams listed above on the left are all tied for first at 1-0, the teams on the right are tied for last at 0-1. It’s not tough.)
Coming into Monday, five of the SWAC’s 10 teams were still winless — the tradeoff for playing so many guarantee games and also just being bad in general. Three of those teams got off the shneid: Texas Southern, Alabama A&M, and Arkansas Pine Bluff. More on TSU and UAPB below. A quick note on Alabama A&M, though: the Bulldogs beat Grambling despite committing 25 turnovers and allowing a 12-0 run to start the second half. It helps that they shot reasonably well, limited Grambling to under 40 percent shooting from inside the arc, and got 18 points from De’Edrick Petty.
Demontrae Jefferson and Derrick Bruce are awesome
I love Jefferson, and it’s not just because he’s 5’7. As the picture at the top of this post indicates, he is a joy to watch. He and Bruce combined to make 13 threes yesterday and score 53 points to help mask a bit of a New Year’s hangover (figuratively?) for the Tigers. And if you didn’t stick with ESPNU until the end, you missed a dustup between Jefferson and some Southern players. Jefferson was ejected for his role in it, but it was fun to see some passion in one of the SWAC’s best rivalries.
And for some extra reading, here’s a cool piece The Undefeated did on Jefferson last year.
Mississippi Valley State is the worst team in the country
Disclosure: I did not watch the second half of the Delta Devils’ game, when I’m sure they looked better. That’s what happens when have a broadcast with no one behind the mic. But woooooo boy were they bad in the first half against Arkansas Pine-Bluff (also one of the worst teams in Division I). UAPB jumped out to an early 18-point lead, not necessarily because they were playing great basketball, but because MVSU just could not score. MVSU moved the ball reasonably well against UAPB’s zone, but, as my old shrink used to say, the team couldn’t hit a donkey’s ass with a banjo.
MVSU isn't getting bad looks. They're just A) not making them and B) haven't had a player come within 4 feet of a rebound*— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 1, 2018
*do not fact check please
The Delta Devils are ranked dead last in the country in KenPom and their team page alone is worth the price of a KenPom subscription.
Prairie View A&M has my favorite play-by-play guy
I wasn’t paying attention to this game so much as I was listening to this man’s deep, soothing voice. I likened him to Bleeding Gums Murphy. Our own Cam Newton compared it to Barry White. But combine that sort of voice with these play-by-play gems, and you have yourself a guy who should call a Final Four:
Play: Dante Sterling dunk— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 2, 2018
Call: "Dante with the funky dunky!"#MidMajorSWACness
"How do you not block him out there? Golly Gee Wllikers!"— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 2, 2018
Nice inbounds play by Alcorn State though! #MidMajorSWACness