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Mississippi State Men’s Basketball can make a statement against Cincinatti

It’s not a must win for Mississippi State, but it is an opportunity to make a statement.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Women's Final Four-Mississippi State vs South Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since we could say a lot of things we can currently say about the 2017-18 Mississippi State Men’s Basketball Team. What are some of those things we can say?

  • The team is undefeated after 8 games
  • The team has a top 30 RPI
  • The team is receiving votes in the AP Poll
  • The team has a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament

The last statement is the most important one. The men’s team hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament since the 2008-09 season, and the only reason it made it then was due to an improbable four game run that saw the team win the SEC Tournament and secure the conference’s automatic bid.

The 2007-08 team was the last team to put together a true Tournament worthy resume. It’s been an entire decade since Mississippi State fans saw this team play good enough basketball to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament without using the conference’s automatic bid.

Tuesday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bearcats provides a unique opportunity for the Men’s Team. If the Bulldogs win, they will have a chance to truly make a mark on the national stage.

Strangely, as much as a win over Cincinnati would help garner attention from a national media standpoint, it wouldn’t do much to boost the team’s RPI. According to Team Rankings, Mississippi State is sitting nice at 30th in the RPI but the Bearcats are way down at 118. A loss would actually put a serious dent in the Bulldogs RPI.

But the Bearcats are a good team, and are currently ranked in the AP Top 25. Even if they lose to Mississippi State on Tuesday, they should still stay close to the Top 25 as they enter the conference portion of their schedule.

While winning this game would do wonders for the confidence and overall outlook of the team, it is far from a must-win game. The Vegas line won’t be released until tomorrow, but I would expect Mississippi State to be the underdog, and they will probably be a heavy one. But losing the game would not end the possibility of a nice season.

Even if Mississippi State loses Tuesday, they most likely enter the SEC portion of their schedule with just one loss, and they could go into the conference play with a ton of confidence. They’ll need it for an improved SEC in men’s basketball. Including Mississippi State, 8 SEC teams are in the top 50 in the RPI as of today.

Is Mississippi State Men’s Basketball back? It’s too early to make that call right now, but we’ll have a pretty good idea on how to answer that question after Tuesday night’s game.