Ben Howland is Doing Work


Oct 21, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs players Craigs Sword (left) and Malik Newman pose for a picture during SEC Tipoff held at Ballantyne Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

You might be feeling a little down in the dumps after Mississippi State was handled easily by the Alabama Crimson Tide this past weekend. And if that is the case, the pick me up you need is found in the work Ben Howland is doing to turn Mississippi State basketball around.

It was lost a little bit in the shuffle, but the Bulldogs got off to a nice start this past Friday night with a resounding 106-88 win over Eastern Washington. Just in case you were wondering, Eastern Washington is a good team. They were a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and are expected to make a repeat appearance this season. And by the way, the Bulldogs played their best game in three seasons without Malik Newman. He was held out as a precautionary move to continue to let his turf toe heal.

It is obviously only one game, and it is way too early to get excited about making a surprise run to the NCAA Tournament. Most college experts don’t know what to make of this year’s Bulldog squad, as preseason predictions and rankings have been all over the place. Over at CBS Sports, their experts had Mississippi State picked to finish anywhere from 4th through 10th. While many Mississippi State fans think a run to the NCAA Tournament is possible in 2016, others aren’t as convinced.

The logic for why Mississippi State can make it to the NCAA Tournament is clear. Josh pointed this out a while back. Mississippi State won 13 games last season. They likely don’t lost to the likes of USC Upstate, Arkansas State, and McNeese State this season. And the Bulldogs lost 6 SEC games by 6 points or fewer in 2015. With Howland as the coach, you have to like the Bulldogs chances of winning the three buy games, and three of those 6 games in SEC play they lost last year. If so, then you can flip the record to 19-13.

Friday’s outcome is a sign this could happen. The team has a wealth of seniors on it including Craig Sword, Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas, and Travis Daniels. If these guys can be properly coached, and combine them with Malik Newman, and the sky could be the limit. But with all of those seniors on the team, aren’t they set up to take a major step back in 2016-17?

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Nope. Not at all.

Ben Howland has been making huge waves on the recruiting trail. As of right now, Howland’s recruiting class  is rated 8th according to And while that is a tremendous class as it is, Howland is about to add another highly sought after recruit.

Howland is going to have five 4 star players to add to I.J. Ready and Quinndary Weatherspoon next season. This is assuming that Weatherspoon doesn’t just go off and have his own spectacular season and jump to the NBA with Malik Newman, which I haven’t ruled out. The basketball team will lack experience in 2016-17, but they will make up for it in tons of talent. The prevailing thought among most experts is Howland will have a team capable of making it to the 2016-17 tournament despite the loss in experience.

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The future is bright for the first time in three seasons for the Men’s Basketball Team at Mississippi State. Bulldog fans can feel optimistic, and it will be based on tangible evidence. You can catch more of that evidence tonight when the team takes on Southern at the Hump.