Where to Watch: SEC Network, Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN
When to Watch: 6 PM CST
March Madness has finally arrived! The Bulldogs finished another disappointing regular season with a nice Senior night win over Missouri and still have a chance to add a few more wins to their resume before the end of the season. This is Mississippi State's third straight season playing in the SEC Tourney's First Round but the good news is that the Bulldogs are 2-0 on opening day under Rick Ray.
Mississippi State and Auburn met only once this year with the Bulldogs coming away with the 78-71 victory. At the time it was MSU's first road victory in nearly two years and signified a turning point in the Bulldogs' season. While the complete turn around was never fully realized, the Bulldogs did go on to get nice wins over LSU and Tennessee. Auburn struggled mightily in Bruce Pearl's first year and managed only four SEC wins on the season. Despite the losses on their records both clubs managed to find some glimmers of hope in disappointing seasons. Craig Sword has proven to be an explosive offensive weapon for the Bulldogs and with Bruce Pearl on the sideline Auburn fans know they have a solid coaching foundation to build on in the future.
This is it for Mississippi State and Auburn's seniors. Everything is on the line when it comes to conference tourney time. Rick Ray may be fighting for his job and both sets of players are hoping to continue their season for at least one more day. The neutral site environment and the nerves that come along with the "survive and advance" mentality add some unique features to this ballgame. Mississippi State has proven to be careless with the ball during crucial points in ballgames this season and turnovers could be the deciding factor in any game against an equally matched opponent. However, while some players may be intimidated by the environemnt conference tourneys provide I expect Mississippi State's seniors and Craig Sword to step up to the plate and beat Auburn Wednesday night.
The winner of this game moves on to face #5 Seed Texas A&M on Thursday at 2:30 PM CST. That is an awfully quick turnaround for either club but that is what makes Tournament time so much fun.
Prediction: Mississippi State 70-62
Dawg Facts: The Bulldogs have won three SEC Tournament Championships with the last coming in 2009.