Bulldogs on the Outside Looking in...Again

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 08: Head coach Rick Stansbury of the Mississippi State Bulldogs yells to a player during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first round of the SEC Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 8, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Mississippi State fans heard the news that most expected and a few even wanted when the Bulldogs failed to make the field of the 2012 NCAA Basketball championships Sunday.

In a year where none of the teams on the bubble did much to distinguish themselves down the stretch, the Bulldogs blew a golden opportunity to make the field by not playing well in the SEC tournament.

Going into the SEC tournament, many bracketologists had the Bulldogs on the bubble but in the tournament. That all started to change after Mississippi State fell in a lifeless fashion to Georgia 71-61 in the first round of the SEC tournament.

Iona, who stole a spot in a play-in (oops..first round) game, was a squad that the Bulldogs were competing with for the final slots in the tournament. The Gaels, who failed to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, did not pick up a victory over a top 50 team this season. They finished the year at 25-7 against the 144st toughest schedule, and they finished with the No. 41 RPI.

Mississippi State finished with a No. 74 RPI, and they posted a 21-11 record against the nations 71st toughest schedule, knocking off two teams in the top 50.

That the Bulldogs were even under consideration surprised some after the Bulldogs hit a five game losing skid. In that skid, the Bulldogs lost at home to Georgia, on the road to LSU and Auburn, at home to Kentucky, and on the road to Alabama. The Bulldogs rebounded from the skid by knocking off South Carolina in Columbia and thumping Arkansas on Senior Day in Starkville.

Very few would have predicted the Bulldogs would have been in this situation after their start to the season. The Bulldogs knocked off Texas A&M and Arizona in Madison Square Garden, and the Bulldogs put up a strong non-conference showing, including a 54-52 loss to Baylor.

With their tournament hopes now dashed, two questions burn in the mind of most Mississippi State fans. One, whether or not the team should accept an NIT bid, will be answered in a few hours. The second, should Rick Stansbury return to Starkville next season, will take a bit longer to answer.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait to voice your opinion.

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