Busting Brackets

3 key areas of focus to increase SWAC Basketball success going forward

Discover the three key areas for SWAC improvement to enhance success, from winning on the court to increasing attendance and leveraging marketing strategies
Dec 10, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions head coach Solomon Bozeman talks
Dec 10, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions head coach Solomon Bozeman talks / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings to all, it's CWells your tour guide around the SWAC. One of the best reasons to watch March Madness is to witness the underdog pull the upset. Every year a little-known team endears itself to basketball fans across the country. If you're like me, those moments make you take a look at your school/conference and ask yourself “Why not us?”

This article took quite some time to put together because I changed my focus many times. I decided to look at three factors the SWAC needs to improve to give themselves a better shot at success. Just a bit of transparency here, this article was born from a discussion with friends. I was actually planning this article while they were talking (I swear I was listening). The major question was, what defines success for a smaller program? My immediate answer was a tournament win, but I think there's more to it than that. So I will break down these three factors and I will state what success is for smaller programs.


The first factor is obviously the most important, and that is winning. Winning the conference tournament is the ticket to the Big Dance. But I feel like being consistently in position for a 13, 14. or 15 seed is to stack wins. A league that is full of horrible non-conference records, will only make it tougher on your champion. I looked back 3 years and found out that the SWAC has a Division 1 non-conference record of 49-332. That's an average of 4.1 wins per team over that span. That also averages out to 16.3 wins per year for the conference as a whole.

A deeper dive into the schedules shows that most teams play the majority of their games against power conference teams. I understand why this is the case, but I feel like the league as a whole needs to attempt to schedule more mid-major games. Being able to play similar programs increases your chances at getting more wins.

Increasing attendance

That takes me to my next factor and it goes hand and hand with the first factor. And that’s attendance. I know what you're gonna ask me next. “CWells, what does that have to do with your idea of success?” The answer must be broken down a bit further. First, better attendance equals more money for the athletic department. Which in turn means an opportunity to decrease the number of power conference teams on the schedule. This season the SWAC had two teams averaging more than 2000 people per game. Of course, football is king in the South so this is easier said than done. Playing a more manageable schedule league-wide will increase the level of competition. Plus watching games in an arena that is 75% full is much better than a 25% full arena.

Marketing/social media

And finally the final factor is one that many may not think is a big deal. And that would be marketing and social media. Using modern methods to promote and expose your product goes a long way. I feel the league is making unfit decisions by putting games behind a paywall. Take the Mississippi Valley broadcast team, they were entertaining. They actually went viral, what happened next? Valley's games became pay per view. I understand the need to get to the bag, but you robbed yourself of one of the best things your team had going. I know this factor doesn't equal wins, but it can go a long way in giving the broader basketball fan base a window into your program. 

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So that brings me to my conclusion. What is success for a league like the SWAC? Improving your profile by creating teams that don't only have to rely on conference games to get improved seeding. There isn't a simple fix for any of these factors, but it's fun to talk about it all. I'm your tour guide around the SWAC signing out make sure to exit the SWAC bus carefully.