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South Carolina vs. Mississippi State Preview: Yikes.

Yes, it's still basketball season. Barely. Mississippi State tries to end it on a positive note by getting a win for the first time in weeks. And get this—State is actually favored.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

So, what’s the deal?

South Carolina, at the Hump, Saturday at 3:00 P.M. (CST)

Is it on TV?

Maybe. Check here to see if it’ll be on your local SEC TV affiliate. Sorry, Anchorage—looks like y’all are stuck with the Auburn-A&M game. But hey, if you’ve got access to ESPN3, you’re set. Take the laptop to the TV room, and bam! You can watch both marquee match-ups at the same time.

Are they any good?

No. No they’re not. South Carolina did beat Kentucky a week ago, and hung with Florida for twenty-two minutes or so on Wednesday. But no—they’re not good. In fact, if there’s a team in the SEC worse that State, it’s the Gamecocks.

What are State’s chances?

You know, when I pondered this question before other games earlier this season, I could look at league stats and the teams’ recent performances as a way to inform at least a semi-educated guess. But, man, after the past couple of weeks’ worth of duds I’ve forced myself to watch, I’ve got nothing. Maybe the collision of the SEC’s two worst field-goal-percentage defenses with two of the league’s five worst scoring offenses will create a tear in the space-time continuum. I think I could dig that.

But seriously, there’s no reason State should lose this game. Other than USC’s home win over Kentucky, its season has been pretty abysmal. They’re coming off a 26-point drubbing at home to Florida. Their head coach is going to miss the game after being suspended for his passionate use of the English language. And, dude, we're actually favored.

I mean, come on, man. This is a win, right?


To appease the basketball gods, you may have to make a bit of a road trip. I don’t see too many South Carolina beers or whiskies in my southern Appalachian environs, and I’m guessing more options don’t nonsensically pop up for those farther west in Mississippi. It’s too bad, because there appear to be a number of interesting breweries in South Carolina, like RJ Rockers out of Spartanburg and Thomas Creek in Greenville.

If you’re gung ho on ingesting you opponent this week, your most readily accessible option may be this tea-flavored vodka concoction I often pass on my journey to the non-tea-flavored section of my local liquor store. Haven’t tried it, and, frankly, I’m not sure I’m interested. But I will give them props for using South Carolina tea in the mix. (The only tea plantation in the United States happens to be on the same island as the distillery. (For any tea geeks reading this, the black tea blend is pretty solid. The green . . . not so much. I really wanted to like it. But it was bad; in a weird way.))

To appease the whisky gods, you may as well close out the 2014 season with a timely selection—the recently released 2014 rendition of Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon. Every vintage I’ve had has been great, and this year’s is no exception. If you’re unfamiliar with this annual tradition, here’s the deal: every year, Evan Williams releases a run of single barrel, roughly ten-year-old bourbon that has become notorious for being remarkably well-crafted for its price point (about $25). And just so you can feel extra fancy, each bottle is marked with a handwritten note of barrel  date, barrel number, and bottle date (mine was barreled in April 2004 and bottled in late November 2013).

This year’s seems to be especially easy drinking. Super smooth and moderately sweet. Haven’t tried it in a cocktail yet, but I’m not sure I will. Great on the rocks, and frankly, maybe a little too mellow to handle heavy mixers.

You’re now ready to watch basketball.