It will be in primetime, as Mississippi State will face their toughest test yet on the Kansas City stage.
Tipoff is at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
Seeding and Records
Mississippi State: 1 (34-1)
NC State: 4 (26-8)
What to Watch For
Teiara McCowan down low:
McCowan has been a force thus far, and that will only continue against the Wolfpack. She posted yet another double-double against Oklahoma, as 21 points and 18 rebounds is nothing to sneeze at. Given the Wolfpack do not have a player above 6’5”, look for McCowan to dominate in the paint.
She will most likely be matched up against Akela Maize, McCowan is just too much. However, Maize will give her fits. That said, one of tonight’s biggest keys is McCowan and foul trouble. This game is likely to swing throughout, and will heavily rely on McCowan’s ability to draw rather than commit fouls.
Leslie will be a handful for the Bulldogs’ defense. Coach Vic Schaefer is sure to have a plan to keep her in check, as Leslie has been one of the game’s best scorers. The 6’0 guard from Holly Springs will have her way, but is going up against the game’s best defense. Leslie averages 12.3 points per game and will have to be at her best for the Wolfpack to take down Mississippi State.
However, there have been moments where the Bulldogs’ defense tends to take a break when nursing a lead. As seen against Oklahoma State, the Cowgirls took advantage and gave Mississippi State a run for their money. While Leslie must be at the top of her game, the Bulldogs can’t relax on the defensive end if they want to come out 35-1.
Jazzmun Holmes taking over:
We all know about the best starting lineup in basketball. They are a load to deal with and virtually unstoppable. But what about Mississippi State’s second unit? Holmes is a nightmare for the opposition on both ends of the floor, as she is sure to make an impact and/or game changing play.
While Holmes is a primary face of the Bulldogs’ second unit, she plays like a starter. She is scrappy and tenacious on defense and is not afraid offensively. Her prowess and dexterity will be on full display, as Holmes’ name will be called numerous times under the Sprint Center lights.
While Oklahoma State was a tough test, NC State will take it a level higher. They are experienced and hungry for an upset. But Mississippi State is experienced and hungry as well. Though Maize and Leslie will fill the stat line and be in full force all game long, Mississippi State will slam the door late.
However, if McCowan gets into foul trouble early, the Bulldogs are more than vulnerable. In addition, Mississippi State must key in on Leslie. She was lethal against the Terps, as Leslie recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Look for unexpected names to be called, as it will be a night for the unsung heroes on both teams. This game is in primetime for a reason and will not disappoint. It will be another dogfight, but the Bulldogs will come out with the W and roll to 35-1.