The Mississippi State University men’s basketball team is right on track for an NCAA Tournament berth, despite a few weeks of winning and losing ranked conference games.
MSU, who has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, has done enough in the non-conference schedule and in conference play so far to stay in the latest projections for who is “dancing” in March.
Freshmen Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II have emerges as leaders for the Bulldogs, the former working his way into the starting five. Lamar Peters has proven himself as one of the best point guards in the SEC, while Quinndary Weatherspoon may be the best x-factor in the SEC.
Anyone at the second half of the University of Kentucky basketball game in Starkville saw the best half of basketball this team has played all season. Despite losing, it makes no sense why there is so much negativity surrounding a program having its best season in over seven years.
Mississippi State is ranked in the top 30 of the KPI, NET, and the RPI which are the rankings the NCAA uses to determine the field of 68 Tournament teams. According to John Gasaway of ESPN.com, Mississippi State is “a team that's being envisioned as a No. 7 seed.” Gasaway has MSU as one of three SEC Teams that “should be in” along with Ole Miss and Auburn.
This is a team that is about to go on a late February and March run. This is the time where it matters to play your best basketball. Basketball and baseball are games of streaks, unlike football where every game matters.
The 2018 MSU baseball team ended their season as one of the top four teams in the NCAA when everyone in early May questioned their chances of even being one of the top 64 teams. They went on a streak to knock off the No. 1 University of Florida late in the season, along with MSU winning their way to Omaha after being down to their last strike against Florida State University in the regional. The rest is history.
The same thing can happen with this team. They are a dark horse to win the SEC Tournament in Nashville and can surprise a few teams in the NCAA Tournament. Do not discount the big wins MSU already has this season, as they have beaten Clemson, Dayton, Ole Miss, Auburn, Saint Mary’s, Wofford, Florida and Cincinnati.
With the 12th toughest schedule in the country, they currently have more wins than they did in the entirety of five of their last six seasons. This team has shown they can win the big games and are set to win many more.
The Bulldogs do not have to face another ranked opponent until March. Which means this is now the perfect opportunity to add to the win total. This program also deserves to draw large crowds for the rest of the season because they have played so well.
The big games coming up are the University of South Carolina on Feb. 23, the University of Missouri on Feb. 26 and Texas A&M University on March 9. These are the last three home games for this team, and MSU could win all three to safely secure their spot in the NCAA tournament or the "Big Dance."