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SWAC Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds: Which Plus Money Team Gets the Auto-Bid?

SWAC Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds: Which Plus Money Team Gets the Auto-Bid? article feature image
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Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrone Lyons (Southern)

The 2022 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) men’s basketball tournament will be played from March 9-12 in Birmingham, AL. The tournament features the league’s top eight teams at the conclusion of the regular season.

The SWAC is considered to be one of the premier HBCU conferences and has a long history of producing accomplished athletes.

Bettors should be licking their chops because we only have plus money options across the board for conference champion futures bets.

Alcorn State will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the SWAC regular-season crown. The Braves finished the season with a 14-4 conference record, edging out No. 2 seed Texas Southern, which had a 13-5 SWAC record.

Southern (12-6) claimed the No. 3 seed followed by Florida A&M (11-7) at the No. 4 seed. Alabama A&M (10-8) has the No. 5 seed in the tournament.

The league’s tiebreaker policy was needed for No. 6 Grambling State and No. 7 Jackson State, as they both finished with 9-9 records.

With a 8-10 record, Prairie View A&M claimed the last spot in the tournament. However, don’t be fooled, the Panthers have the potential to make a run at the title.

The path to the SWAC championship is wide open, and the futures odds tell a completely different story from the initial seedings.

The SWAC is tightly bunched at the top in terms of conference record. Teams that played an easier conference schedule wound up with a material advantage that is reflected in the discrepancy between seeding and futures markets.

The No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds are +350, +190 and +260, respectively, whereas the No. 5, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 seeds are +2200, +3200, +1200 and +1200, respectively.

For purposes of evaluating the futures markets, it’s going to be important to rely on advanced stats from KenPom and others, as that’s where the actionable differences amongst teams will be identified.

Look for the SWAC Tournament to be filled will shockers and a middle-of-the-pack team getting an auto-bid.


SWAC Tournament Bracket & Schedule

Photo via @theswac. View full-size image in new tab.

2022 SWAC Tournament Odds


The No. 1 Seed: Alcorn State Braves (+350)

The Alcorn State Braves enter this event as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular season title for the first time in 20 years. Even though they enter the tournament atop the league, Vegas isn’t feeling the love.

Graduate student Justin Thomas leads the team in scoring (10.5 PPG), assists (4.19 APG) and steals (1.9 SPG). Freshman forward Keondre Montgomery is a close second in offensive production with an average of 10.1 points a night.

The Braves are priced at such long odds because they are the third-best team statistically in the tournament. They open the bracket against a tough Prairie View A&M team.

The odds do seem tempting for a No. 1 seed at a big plus money number, but there are a handful of obstacles in a tough bracket for Alcorn State.


The Betting Favorite: Texas Southern Tigers (+190)

Texas Southern in the top statistical team in the SWAC, ranking 207th in the nation, per KenPom, and first in the SWAC.

The Tigers are led by a trio of scorers in Joirdon Karl Nicholas (9.5 PPG), John Walker III (9.4 PPG) and Bryson Etienne (8.4 PPG). The Tigers have the third best offense in the SWAC, with an AdjO of 100.9 points per 100 possessions.

Defense has been where Texas Southern has got it done this season. The Tigers are tied for first in the league in AdjD, allowing 100.9 points per 100 possessions.

At +190, I think Texas Southern is a pass, and there are better places to use your capital.

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The Value Play: Southern Jaguars (+260)

Southern is the second-best statistical team in the tournament, carrying a ranking of 216 (per KenPom) at the conclusion of the season, which is second best in the SWAC.

Junior guard/forward Tyrone Lyons leads the Jaguars in scoring, with an average of 13.7 points per game. Senior guard Jayden Saddler leads the team in assists (4.1) and is third in scoring (11.2).

Southern is the fourth-best offensive team in the conference and tied for the best defensive team with respect to AdjO (97.6) and AdjD (100.9). The Jaguars play up-tempo basketball, ranking tied for first in tempo in the SWAC.

I like the Jaguars to cruise into the second round. The semifinal matchup between the winner of Texas Southern and Jackson State will likely be their toughest test of the tournament.

The combination of stout defense and tempo should be enough to help Southern advance to the championship rounds of the SWAC Tournament.


The Last Guys in: Prairie View A&M Panthers (+1200)

The No. 8 seed Prairie View A&M Panthers were the last team in, but they are the fifth-ranked team in KenPom’s rankings.

The Panthers have an offense that is among the most capable in the league, with an AdjO of 98.8 points per 100 possessions. Defensively, the Panthers rank last in AdjD, giving up 108.7 points per 100 possessions.

Look for Prairie View A&M to use its fast pace to offset weakness on defense.

Head coach Byron Smith is 7-3 in the SWAC Tournament.

The Panthers are in prime position strike if they can get past Alcorn State as slight underdogs in the first round. Should they beat the Braves on Wednesday, they’d be favorites in the semifinal game against the winner of Florida A&M and Alabama A&M.

There is a reasonable path to the championship game for Prairie View A&M. Hypothetically, if Prairie View A&M were to play in the SWAC title against betting favorites Texas Southern, it would likely be around 4-point underdogs. That’s not too shabby for entering the tournament at +1000.


SWAC Quarterfinal Projections

Jackson State vs. Texas Southern

Wednesday, March 9
3 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Projected Spread: Texas Southern -5.48

Projected Total: 131.77

This will be a big test for Texas Southern. Do not be deceived by the No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup here.

I expect Texas Southern to win, but keep in mind that Jackson State took Texas Southern down back in January.

Take the points at +5 or better.


Prairie View A&M vs. Alcorn State

Wednesday, March 9
9:30 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Projected Spread: Alcorn State -2.88

Projected Total: 136.54

This is surprisingly small chalk, given that it’s the SWAC regular season champs versus the last guys in.

Alcorn State is the 258th ranked team in the nation (per KenPom), and Prairie View A&M is right behind them at 282nd.

These two schools split their series earlier this season.

Take the points at +4 or better.

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Grambling vs. Southern

Thursday, March 10
3 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Projected Spread: Southern -8.06

Projected Total: 139.1

Southern has the largest statistical advantage of all the SWAC quarterfinal games as 8-point favorites.

The Jaguars are tied for the best defense in the league — with an AdjD of 100.9 — and they play up-tempo basketball. They should be too much for Grambling State in the first round.

Southern is 17-11 against the spread this season.

Lay the points at -6.5 or better.


Alabama A&M vs. Florida A&M

Thursday, March 10
9:30 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Projected Spread: Florida A&M -1.68

Projected Total: 131.15

Both schools matchup very well from a statistical perspective. This is evidenced by the split series this season, with each school losing on its home court.

Both teams play with a slow tempo and Alabama A&M has a top-ranked defense in the SWAC.

I wouldn’t make a play on this game until more lines are released.

Overall SWAC Pick: Southern (+250) to win tournament

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