UAPB is two games from the Dance

Narrowly escaped with a win in their SWAC quarterfinal game last night at home, beating Mississippi Valley State 77-73. Semifinals and finals are in Houston this weekend.

The Golden Lions are 13-20 for the season but have the top seed in the SWAC tournament. How? Well, they finished in a second-place tie at 12-6 behind Grambling, which is ineligible for postseason play due to APR issues (this is why you don’t run people off) and won the tiebreaker. The 20 losses are due to their nonconference schedule. They played 14 NC games, all outside the state of Arkansas, and lost every single one of them. Closest loss was by 9 points at Air Force. Cincinnati beat them by 28. SMU beat them by 30.

The SWAC winner, whether it’s UAPB or someone else (they play Southern U in the semis), will go to Dayton for the First Four and lose. That’s pretty much a given. But it’d be nice to see the Lions get that chance (they’ve been in the NCAAT once before). Even with 20 losses.

As for the rest of the Arkansas D-I delegation, UCA, UALR and the Pink Puppies all play today. Each one is the lower seed in their matchup, so it may be just the Hogs and Lions left after tonight.

UALR is out; blown out by Appalachian State in the Sun Belt tournament.

Meanwhile, Arizona State, which looked like worldbeaters in December (beat Kansas at the Phog, etc.) is losing to Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament and probably is NIT bound.

ASU plays ULM tonight; UCA plays Lamar. ESPN says both teams are underdogs.

I’d like to see UAPB make it. Of course, should they miraculously win two more games to make it, they’ll be a 16 (or at absolute best 15) seed & won’t win a game. The odds of us facing them–even if they make the tourney–are well, just about nil. I suppose it’d be theoretically possible if we were the 7 or 8-9 seed, won our game, and they were a 15 or 16 seed in the same bracket who beat the 1 or 2 seed. Yeah. Odds of us facing them are about nil.

UAPB’s RPI is 310. And they still might make the Dance. Not sure if anyone keeps those kinds of records, but I wonder if a 300+ RPI has ever made the tournament since RPI was invented. I doubt it. That’s about as 16-seedish as you can get. Automatic trip to Dayton. If they somehow won, they’d get a 1 seed, meaning Virginia, Villanova, Duke, Xavier, someone like that. Someday a 16 will beat a 1, but it won’t be the Lions. But if they did, then their third-round game would be against an 8 seed. Which could theoretically be us.

But here’s the really freaky part. If the SWAC didn’t have a tournament (and every league does now, even the Ivy), UAPB would already be in the Dance with a 12-20 record as conference champions.

What a hard fall from that magical season just two years ago. Looks like Wes Flanigan was not the right man to succeed Chris Beard.

Well, I had an idea UAPB would probably be about as low as one could be, but I didn’t bother to check to see how low. I know there’ve been some pretty bad teams get a 16 seed & I didn’t know if there were some worse ones out there who’d nudge them to 15. Sounds like that’s not the case. Regardless, I doubt they’ll win their conf tourney.