Oct 5, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here.
On March 21st of this year, Gonzaga – the team that arguably popularized the term “Cinderella” as a signifier for mid-major success against the odds – nearly found the glass slipper on the other foot. The Bulldogs were the No. 1 seed, and the pesky, vastly outgunned Southern Jaguars were hanging around, threatening to become the first No. 16 seed to ever pull the first-round upset. The Zags pulled out the win, but the 64-58 final score sent shock waves around the college basketball world.
That it was Southern putting the irons to a top seed was even more shocking than the final score. The Jaguars earned their auto-bid out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the league that came in dead last in the kenpom.com rankings last season, below the Great West and DI Independents.
SWAC teams don’t win much, because SWAC teams have no money. The Jaguars, who nearly made NCAA history a few months ago, ranked 341st out of 344 schools in basketball expenditures in 2012. According to the NCAA, each team that appeared in a tourney game last season earned roughly $242,200 for each March Madness showdown. The Southern basketball budget a year ago was roughly $535,000 total.
What could a SWAC team do with two NCAA units? More?
Winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament isn’t a crazy thought for a low-budget program any more. Remember Norfolk State and Lehigh celebrating 15 over 2 upsets on the same day two years ago? Both schools fall well below the median in basketball budget year-in and year-out. Norfolk State, like Southern is one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and a member of the MEAC, which has sent Hampton and Coppin State to legendary upsets in the past.
SWAC teams have won five NCAA tournament games since 1980, but three of those came in preliminary round games against other double-digit seeds. Another was an 8 vs. 9 matchup between Alcorn State and South Alabama in 1980. The only true upset came at the hands of the legendary Ben Jobe, who took a 13-seeded SWAC team – the Jaguars, handily enough – to a 93-78 win over Georgia Tech in 1993.
So, with the SWAC auto-bid firmly planted in the sixteen-seed range every year, can the big upset happen? Absolutely.
The Jaguars weren’t even the best team in the SWAC last year. Texas Southern, under former Indiana and UAB head coach Mike Davis, was 16-2 in the SWAC but ineligible for postseason play. This year, Davis and company add two-time transfer Aaric Murray to a team that loves to run and gun. A skilled big man who can run the court may be all the Tigers need to eke out a program-defining win in March. If they miss out, Southern is the counterpuncher, using defensive intensity to disrupt bigger, faster opponents.
The SWAC showed us that it’s possible for a 16 seed to beat a 1 last season. There’s no reason the cash-poor league can’t pull a true Cinderella routine in the near future. Possibly as soon as this year.
May 4, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Boise State might have found some production in its backcourt to help replace Derrick Marks.
May 4, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Quinn Cook had plenty of ups and downs at Duke and this senior speech caps it all off.
May 4, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
San Diego State landed a top-100 player in the 2016 class on Monday night.
Report: Former Clemson guard Rod Hall has interest from multiple NFL teams; college football also an option
May 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Former Clemson point guard Rod Hall has some decisions to make regarding his future in football.
Four-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson will take a mission trip before playing college basketball
May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is a unique recruit because of a two-year mission he plans on taking after high school.
May 4, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Seton Hall picked up a potential impact guard as a transfer.
May 4, 2015, 4:01 PM EDT
Anderson was completely off-base in his criticisms.
May 4, 2015, 3:18 PM EDT
It was a Terry Rozier-themed birthday part. Awesome.
May 4, 2015, 2:56 PM EDT
Mo Alie-Cox is one of the biggest and strongest players in college basketball.
May 4, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
A quick look at some guys that can be stars in 2015-16.
May 4, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT
Ryan has set records for his ability to raise money at events like this.
May 4, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Curry burst onto the national scene with a huge 2008 NCAA tournament run.
May 4, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT
LeGerald Vick could end up moving into the class of 2015.
May 3, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding in each of his three seasons playing at Brown.
May 3, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s first commitment in the 2016 class is an important one.
May 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
The Aggies are on the board in 2016, and they’ve landed one of the top distributors in the class.
May 3, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
Nigel Hayes believes that each individual school should be allowed to decide how much they give an athlete should they be allowed to pay them in the future.
May 3, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
The Texans will hold its rookie minicamp next weekend.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Jones hasn’t played a college game yet, but when he arrives on campus at UNLV he’ll be one of the best dunkers in college basketball.
May 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Former Colorado guard Dustin Thomas is heading to Arkansas.
- Looking Forward: Potential Breakout Stars in 2015-16 5
- How Jaylen Brown’s commitment made a huge impact on the finalists recruiting him 5
- UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings 4
- Five-star wing Jaylen Brown commits to California 0
- With Billy Donovan headed to Oklahoma City, where does this leave Florida? 5
- Derek Anderson could not have been more wrong in his Calipari critique 12
- Report: Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City ‘nearing an agreement’ on coaching vacancy 2
- 2015 College Basketball Early Entry List (14)
- Derek Anderson could not have been more wrong in his Calipari critique (12)
- How concerned should North Carolina fans be that Brandon Ingram passed on the Tar Heels? (11)
- CBT Roundtable: What rule would you change in college basketball? (11)
- Report: Five-star small forward Jaylen Brown cuts list to four (6)