25-2, SEC Champions, number 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Timmy Bowers, Winsome Frazier, Shane Power, Brandon Vincent and Lawrence Roberts. Road Warriors. The 2004 Mississippi State basketball team was a force to be reckoned with.
After an easy victory over Monmouth in the first round, Xavier lay in the weeds for the round of 32. It was supposed to be a relatively easy win....but no, the Musketeers got NBA Jam hot from the 3-point line: 13 of 19. 68%. They were just throwing them up - including a half court shot to beat the halftime buzzer and steal the lead. They kept themselves in the game during the first half with 3's by shooting 60%. In the second half, they upped their game and shot 78% to pull away and win by 15. This wasn't the same team MSU had beaten by 12 in December....Xavier just had a hot hand.
The '04 Bulldogs were a tough group. They persevered and battled through games and got victories. They were a fun team to watch - especially with all the winning. This team had all the makings of a Final Four team, but their dreams were cut short by Xavier.
The Musketeers went on the Elite 8 where they lost to 1 seed Duke. That should have been State. And I really think MSU would have been able to beat the Blue-Devils. Duke only won that game 66-63, and Xavier only mustered three treys in 15 attempts. That regional final was played in Atlanta too - so you know there would have been plenty of Bulldog fans.
I really believe MSU would have made the Final Four that year. Duke was a good team, and they almost beat eventual national champion UConn in the Final Four - but I think State had a shot. And they would've had a shot against UConn or GA Tech too. Can you imagine a Mississippi State/Georgia Tech national championship game? What could've been.
The '04 team was a great one...maybe State's best team - but as the years go by their memory will fade. The teams that last are the ones that hang the highest banners like the '96 group. It couldn't been something special, but Xavier got hot and it wasn't meant to be.