Monday's game will be the fourth time I see Mississippi Valley State play in person. I saw the Delta Devils score the fewest points in an NCAA Tournament game during the shot clock era (29 vs. UCLA in 2008) and have seen them play in Evanston the past two years, losing by a combined 38 points. It's safe to say I've seen enough of MVSU for one person.
But Northwestern? The Wildcats don't mind inviting the Delta Devils and their SWAC brethren back to Evanston each year.
It's December, meaning it's cupcake season in college basketball. And for a Northwestern team that had a crazy travel schedule, then an off week for finals, a cupcake break sounds just about right.
This Northwestern team has struggled with theoretical cupcakes at times. This year's Wildcats nearly lost to IUPUI and did lose to Illinois State, which is not a cupcake, but is a team NU should beat, especially at home. However, SWAC teams haven't caused many issues for NU over the years, and MVSU doesn't figure to provide much of a challenge.
The Wildcats have made the SWAC one of their cupcake conferences of choice, as random as it may seem. They've played at least one SWAC team every year since 2011, and the results are what you might expect:
|2011-12||Mississippi Valley State||92-67|
|2012-13||Mississippi Valley State||81-68|
|2013-14||Mississippi Valley State||???|
Here's what you need to know about the SWAC — it's not very good. It's ranked last out of all 33 conferences by KenPom.com, and the margin isn't particularly close. The conference's best team, Texas Southern, is ranked 238th in the nation, according to Pomeroy's ratings. Its worst team, Grambling State, is ranked as the worst team in the nation, and last year the Tigers could have very well been the worst team ever, finishing last nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Delta Devils? They rank 340th in the country this season.
So what's the moral of this story? Well 1) December basketball can be boring, and 2) NU fans probably don't have much to worry about Monday night. The one saving grace from last year's game? MVSU's Davon Usher dropped 35 points and provided plenty of entertainment value and puns.
This year, Usher transferred to Delaware, taking away any of the already minimal intrigue from the 2013-14 edition of the NU-SWAC Challenge.