Check out this week’s Bracket Racket here: http://hoopshd.com/2014/02/24/bracket-racket-022314/
Check out my Monday Morning Bracketology here: http://hoopshd.com/2014/02/24/monday-morning-bracketology-february-24/
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY at ALABAMA STATE, 8:30 PM Eastern, No TV
Southern University continues to lead the SWAC . . . but that may be meaningless if the NCAA does not clear the school for postseason play. As we detailed here last week, the Jaguars received a mid-season ruling of ineligibility for all their sports due to discrepancies with the reporting of APR and GSR data to the NCAA from 2003-2009, before any of the current members of the team even decided to come to Baton Rouge. The school is working hard to clear up eligibility for both the men’s and women’s basketball team before the March 11 starts of the SWAC tournament. With Southern sitting at 12-2 in conference and 16-11 overall, and holding the only top 200 RPI and KenPom in the SWAC, the final decision by the NCAA will have a huge impact on the SWAC this season.
If Southern does not regain its eligibility, the next best team in the conference may be Alabama State. The Hornets are two games behind Southern at 9-4 in conference and are the only other team in the SWAC above .500 at 15-9. However, that 15-9 may be somewhat misleading. Most SWAC teams tend to schedule “guarantee” games — road games at power conference schools for which the school is paid but does not get a return home game the following year. Alabama State avoided doing that. They instead scheduled the #335 non-conference SOS, resulting in the overall worst SOS in the entire country. In fact, amazingly, tonight’s game will be only their fourth game all season against an RPI Top 200 team, and one of those was a loss back on January 27 to this same Southern team (the other two were losses to Illinois and Milwaukee).
As a side note, Alabama State is no stranger to academic ineligibility themselves. The Hornets were one of four SWAC teams that were declared ineligible for postseason play this year due to their APR numbers (joining Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State). Alabama State filed an immediate appeal of their ban and were able to demonstrate to the NCAA that some of the data that had been used was inaccurate. As a result, their APR numbers were recalculated and met the minimum standards, resulting in a lifting of their postseason ban. We can all only hope that Southern University is just as successful in their current appeal process, because the team that wins this conference and represents the SWAC in the NCAA tournament should be decided on the court — not in some NCAA paper pusher’s office.