Analysis: Lady Bulldogs Get Best Draw of 2015 NCAA Field

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As we found out not too long ago, Mississippi State was selected to take part in the 2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Bulldogs were selected as a five-seed, and will travel to Durham, NC to face off against the twelve-seed Tulane Green Wave. They are in the same sub-regional as four-seed Duke and thirteen-seed Albany. While many Bulldog fans groaned at the fact the Bulldogs will not get the chance to play in front of a raucous Humphrey Coliseum crowd, I believe that we can take solace in the fact that the MSU squad got the best draw of the tournament.

First, let’s take a look at our opening game against twelve-seed Tulane. The Tulane Green Wave come into the NCAA Tournament with a record of 22-10. While they have wins against LSU and Miami, the Green Wave were considered as one of the Last Four In by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. This means, the Green Wave were on the bubble and nearly on the way out of the NCAA Tournament field. According to Warren Nolan, the Green Wave had a RPI of 52 and a Strength of Schedule of 64. Their record against RPI Top 50 is 1-4. Mississippi State’s RPI currently sits at 31. This game should be a fairly easy one for Vic Schaefer’s squad, but is not a team to be overlooked.

If the Bulldogs do manage to beat the Tulane Green Wave, then their next opponent will be the winner between four-seed Duke and thirteen-seed Albany. Let’s take a look at those opportunities now, shall we, by starting off with Albany. The Albany Great Danes don’t have the most stellar resume in the field, and it’s quite obvious. While Albany’s record is 24-8 on the year, their RPI of 78 and SOS of 224 are glaring weaknesses and seem to definitely be the underdog of the group. With their best win coming against Penn State, and a subsequent loss to Western Kentucky in the Preseason WNIT (who Mississippi State defeated 88-77 to win the Preseason WNIT), the Albany Great Danes definitely are fortunate to have won the America East title. Otherwise, they most likely would not have gotten into this year’s Field of 64.

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Lastly, let’s look at the four-seeded host Duke Blue Devils. The Blue Devils come into the tournament with a 21-10 record. They have an RPI of 15, but a SOS of 4. That’s a very strong schedule for Duke, but I still believe that Duke is a team that can easily be defeated this year. The Blue Devils have losses to Texas A&M (who the Bulldogs defeated in the Hump 63-61), Nebraska, South Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, UCONN, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame x2. Their worst losses of those are to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, neither of which made the NCAA Field this year. Duke is currently riding a 12-game home winning streak, so the task of defeated Duke in Cameron Indoor is a very tall one indeed.

All in all, I believe the Bulldogs have the capability and necessary tools to make their second-ever trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 this year, where they would most likely face No. 1-seed Maryland or No. 8-seed, and undefeated, Princeton. The Bulldogs will play this Friday at 1:30 PM CDT on ESPN2. So be on the lookout for your Maroon and White as they play in the 2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, and look to make a trip to the Final Four in Tampa Bay, FL.