Your Mississippi State Bulldogs are dancing! MSU defeated Missouri 68-49 in Starkville Tuesday night to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are 21-7, 9-6 in the SEC, and in fourth place in the conference. With their postseason spot locked, Mississippi State is now fighting for seeding in the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Tournament.
For the first time in a long time, the Bulldogs are fighting for a top spot in the SEC. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Florida are all 9-6 in the conference, but MSU owns the tie-breaker over those teams. It will be interesting to see which of these four teams will be able to get that fourth spot.
MSU is currently 8-6 against the teams currently predicted to get into the NCAA Tournament, but lost five of those games by a margin of five points or less.
Mississippi State now travels to Auburn (19-9, 8-7) riding a five-game winning streak while Auburn has won three of its last four. The last time these teams faced, the Bulldogs left The Hump with a 92-84 victory over the Tigers, who were No. 16 in the country at the time. Quinndary Weatherspoon led the Dawgs with 27 points while shooting 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Q is currently leading the conference in points per game in conference play and he has increased his game to a whole other level.
Q’s stats since MSU played Auburn (last 10 games):
- 1 31 point game (career high)
- 7 20+ point games
- 21.9 points per game
- 3.3 rebounds per game
- 2.0 assists per game
- 2.3 steals per game
- 28-of-51 (54.9%) from 3-point range
- 73-of-127 (57.5%) from the field
Q is playing his last games as a Bulldog and numbers like these can do damage in the tournaments.
Auburn has rallied late in the season and are making a push to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. Every game is a tournament game for the Tigers and if they lose any of their remaining games, it could slash their chances of going to the Big Dance.
Auburn was soundly defeated by Kentucky 80-53 last Saturday night, turned around, and narrowly escaped Athens with a 78-75 victory.
The Tigers’ two stars are Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Both are averaging over 15.0 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game. Brown, Harper, and Samir Doughty are Auburn’s best shooters. Doughty comes off the bench and is a reliable outside presence. Chuma Okeke can be a force down low, or catch fire from the outside. The way Okeke plays could be the difference in this game.
The last time these teams met, Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard weren't the players we know them as now. Both are improving with every minute they’re out on the court. Nick Weatherspoon is still suspended, but is still practicing with the team. We are all still waiting on his return. In the meantime, Tyson Carter has be excellent replacing Nick in the starting lineup.
When the Bulldogs and Tigers met over a month ago, Mississippi State was relying on their ability to shoot from 3-point range to win games. Now, they’re winning by turning defense into offense. This is the type of Howland team college basketball fans are used to seeing and it’s a lot of fun to watch.
After Auburn, the Bulldogs travel to Knoxville to face the Vols who have been struggling the past few weeks. That could very well be a trap game for Tennessee and MSU has another opportunity to add another Q1 win to their resumé. But for now, the Bulldogs are focused on their trip to Auburn and leaving with a victory.
Mississippi State could get as high as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament; a victory at Auburn and at Tennessee greatly increase the Bulldogs’ chances of seeing that happen. This is the Bulldogs’ first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, and personally, I cannot wait to see what this team can do in March. Go Dawgs and Hail State!