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Building a Tournament Resume

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Evaluating Mississippi State’s tournament chances entering February

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Gonzaga vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially halfway through conference play and the Bulldogs are coming off of back-to-back impressive victories. It’s also February, which means March is only a month away. As we look forward to the madness, it’s time to assess this team’s chances of making the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs are 4-5 in the SEC and 16-6 overall. Making the tournament is about more than just the wins and losses, you have to collect good wins and avoid bad losses.

The Good

The first positive for the Bulldogs is their record. 16-6 is a good mark. They are guaranteed to go into the SEC tournament with a winning record. 4-5 is good enough to be tied for sixth in what is widely-regarded as the most competitive conference in all of college basketball. The Bulldogs have 4 wins against RPI top-100 teams. Those 4 wins are as many as Miami, Houston, and Washington. They have a chance to pick up 3 more in the next 3 games with 2 of those games coming at home.

The Bad

The Bulldogs did not do much to bolster their resume during the non-conference portion of their schedule. According to KenPom, their non-conference strength of schedule ranked 345th out of 351 teams. Their overall strength of schedule, since SEC play has started, has improved to rank 111th in the nation. The Bulldogs are 1-5 in true road games. On Wednesday, they won their first road game in over a year. When the committee is looking for ways to distinguish teams with similar resumes, this is the type of thing that can really hurt.

Looking Ahead

Below you can see where the Bulldogs stand in the various rankings (through Jan. 31) compared to the last 4 teams into the tournament in each of the last two seasons.

Tournament Resume Comparison

Conference play has helped the Bulldogs move up in these rankings. They also have an opportunity to get 8 more of these as Vanderbilt is their only remaining opponent that is currently outside of the top 100. The team has looked as good as it has all season in the last week. If they can keep it going we’ll be shifting the conversation from ‘can they get in’ to ‘how deep of a run can they make’.