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Mississippi State men’s basketball postseason hunt: Make your pick

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Previewing the Mississippi State men’s basketball team

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

Can this team make the postseason?

Mississippi State men’s basketball has been a middle-of-the-road team during head coach Ben Howland’s tenure. In six seasons with Howland at the helm, MSU has made the postseason three times, including one NCAA Tournament and two National Invitation Tournament appearances.

MSU’s record in Southeastern Conference play under Howland is 51-57, including last season’s 8-10 showing.

Key departures: D.J. Stewart, Jr., Abdul Ado.

After a successful NBA Summer League, Stewart signed with the Miami Heat, but he was waived on Oct. 16. Ado left MSU for the University of Cincinnati in the spring as a graduate transfer.

Key arrivals: Shakeel Moore (North Carolina State transfer), Garrison Brooks (University of North Carolina transfer), D.J. Jeffries (University of Memphis transfer), Rocket Watts (Michigan State transfer), Camryn Carter (four-star recruit from Donaldsonville, Louisiana). The transfers are well-experienced and hail from pedigreed basketball programs, accounting for 2,388 total points, including Jeffries’ 15 points, five rebounds and five blocks against MSU in the 2021 NIT championship game.

This group of transfers has high upside potential. Another impact player is junior guard Iverson Molinar, who is a preseason All-SEC first team selection. Molinar got hot last postseason, leading the Bulldogs to the NIT title game.

Media expectations for the MSU men’s basketball team for the 2021-22 season are mediocre. The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball preseason poll does not include the Bulldogs, but the team did net five total votes in that poll. The SEC preseason media poll has the Bulldogs finishing eighth out of the 14 conference teams.

Make your postseason pick for MSU men’s hoops:

A. NCAA Tournament: Howland’s transfer portal mining strikes gold; Molinar plays at all-SEC level.

B. NIT Tournament: a perfectly fine, natural result for an average power five team; status quo.

C. No postseason: players don’t gel; Howland is on the hot seat by season’s end.

I believe the Bulldogs are most likely to make the NIT again this season, but they have a chance to improve enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Howland has brought in some dynamic players the past six years, but that hasn’t always translated to wins. Where do you stand?

On Nov. 10, the MSU men’s basketball team will host the University of North Alabama Lions in nonconference play. SEC play begins Dec. 29 as the Bulldogs play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks. The SEC Tournament runs from March 9-13.