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SWAC bracket, preview and schedule: Can Grambling State escape the NMTC?

Grambling State has completed its best regular season in program history, finishing with a 22-8 record

NCAA Basketball: Grambling State at Virginia Tech
Donte Jackson and the Grambling State Tigers have won their last nine games heading into the SWAC Tournament.
Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of people have discovered a guilty pleasure this season, and that’s watching SWAC basketball on Monday nights via a YouTube stream.

With it being conference tournament week, it’s a four-day affair in Birmingham between the league’s best.

It’s been chaos all season. It should only continue this week.

Buckle in, shall you?



Note: All games are in Birmingham, Ala., and all times are Eastern.

Quarterfinals (Wednesday - Thursday, March 8 - 9), ESPN+

Game 1: No. 7 Bethune-Cookman vs. No. 2 Grambling State, 3 p.m. (Wednesday)

Game 2: No. 8 Texas Southern vs. No. 1 Alcorn State, 9:30 p.m. (Wednesday)

Game 3: No. 6 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 3 Jackson State, 3 p.m. (Thursday)

Game 4: No. 5 Alabama A&M vs. No. 4 Southern, 9:30 p.m. (Thursday)

Semifinals (Friday, March 10), ESPN+

Game 5: Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 3 p.m.

Game 6: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 9:30 p.m.

Finals (Saturday, March 11), ESPNU

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 5:30 p.m.

The Favorites

Alcorn State (18-12, 15-3)

For the second consecutive season, Landon Bussie has led the Alcorn State Braves to a SWAC regular season title.

It’s through three players that they find so much success: Dominic Brewton, Jeremiah Kendall and Keondre Montgomery. If all three click, the Braves are scary. If all three get in foul trouble, the Braves will be in trouble.

Luckily for them, they’re one of the hottest teams in the country, winning nine of their last 10. If they continue that play, ASU might make its first NCAA Tournament since 2002.

Grambling State (22-8, 15-3)

Grambling State is one of the best stories in college basketball this season.

Not only did they finish with their best record in school history (22-8) but they beat two Power-5 schools in the process (Colorado and Vanderbilt).

It’s through their elite defense that they’re so strong, ranking 81st in the country in defensive efficiency and in the top-ten of both defensive effective field goal percentage and defensive 2-point percentage.

Big man Carte’are Gordon (who has not played the last two games) and league player of the year, Cam Christian, are key to the success of this squad and one of the deadliest one-two punches in the league.

The Dark Horse

Southern (15-16, 11-7)

Sean Woods has quietly rebuilt Southern into a powerhouse. They run a fast style of basketball that causes fits on the defensive end, ranking ninth in the country in non-steal turnover percentage. Its backcourt of Brion Whitley and Bryson Etienne is about as experienced as you could get in this league.

The Long Shots

Jackson State (13-18, 12-6)

The Tigers have won their last four and seven of their last eight. Former NBA guard Mo Williams has the boys playing good basketball at the right time.

Bethune-Cookman (12-19, 8-10)

Bethune-Cookman has a backcourt that could make noise in March. Led by five-star freshman Zion Harmon and former NBA Draft prospect, Joe French, the Wildcats scored 91 points last time out.

Texas Southern (11-20, 7-11)

You can never bet against Texas Southern in March. They’re getting healthy again as PJ Henry has scored double digits the last nine times out, and Jordan Karl Nicholas has a double-double in two of the last three.

Players to Watch

Dominic Brewton, Alcorn State (12.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 40.5% FG%)

Jeremiah Kendall, Alcorn State (11.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 49.2% FG%)

Cameron Christon, Grambling State (12.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 46.1% FG%)

Carte’are Gordon, Grambling State (12.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 56.0% FG%)

Shawndarius Cowart, Grambling State (11.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 46.3% FG%)

Ken Evans Jr., Jackson State (10.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 37.1% FG%)

Brion Whitley, Southern (11.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 36.7% FG%)

Olisa Blaise Akonobi, Alabama A&M (7.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 57.7% FG%)

Garrett Hicks, Alabama A&M (13.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 44.7% FG%)

Will Douglas, Prairie View A&M (13.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 42.9% FG%)

Yakuza Rasas, Prairie View A&M (11.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 46.1% FG%)

Zion Harmon, Bethune-Cookman (13.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 40.2% FG%)

Jordan Karl Nicholas, Texas Southern (11.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 53.9% FG%)


The SWAC Tournament is always so difficult to predict. It’s full of chaos and there’s very little margin between the top and bottom. It shows this year as constant powerhouse Texas Southern is the eighth seed.

Give me Grambling over Southern in the championship game between Louisiana rivals though. It’ll be an intense battle that the Tigers win 60-54, making its first NCAA Tournament in school history.