Mississippi State basketball: What will it take for Bulldogs to make NCAA Tournament?

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

The Mississippi State basketball team will need a strong finish to the 2018-19 season if they are going to make the NCAA Tournament.

When the 2018-19 Mississippi State basketball season began, things looked pretty good early on for the Men’s team. The Bulldogs finished the nonconference portion of their schedule with a 12-1 record, and they were in a good position to put themselves in line for a solid seed in the NCAA Tournament.

But then the Mississippi State basketball team lost their first two SEC games to South Carolina on the road and Ole Miss at home. Most people thought those were going to be games the Bulldogs should win. And when they lost them, it put the team behind the eight ball ever since.

The Mississippi State basketball team can’t seem to get over the hump ever since those two losses. After their loss to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, the Bulldogs sit at 16-7 on the season and 4-6 against SEC opponents.

What once looked like an easy road to the NCAA Tournament has raveled into looking at what it will take for the Mississippi State basketball team to break their 10 year NCAA Tournament drought. The odds are still in the Bulldogs’ favor, but their margin for error has become razor thin.

One of the best things going for the Mississippi State basketball team is their strong NCAA NET ranking. After the games played this past weekend, the Bulldogs currently sit at number 29 in those rankings.

With such a strong NET ranking and number of wins which would be considered quadrant I and II wins, the Bulldogs probably just need to finish with a .500 conference record to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Can they get there?

The Mississippi State basketball schedule lightens up starting this week, so that’s the good news. The Bulldogs have Alabama this week, whom they lost to earlier this year, but this time it is at home. Then the team heads to Arkansas to end the week. The Bulldogs can win both of those games, and they need to do so.

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Next week, the Bulldogs will travel to Georgia who is possibly the worst team in the SEC, and then they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Starkville. Again, the Mississippi State basketball team lost to South Carolina earlier this season, but this time the game will be played at home. They need to win both of those game as well.

Then the Bulldogs have Missouri at home and then Auburn on the road. Both are winnable, but it won’t be as easy to beat Auburn on the road as it was at home. MSU needs at least one, but both would be great.

The last week is very similar. The Bulldogs will head to Tennessee before finishing the season at home against Texas A&M. You can probably handle a loss to Tennessee, but you can’t handle a loss to Texas A&M.

If I were to rank the teams Mississippi State plays from here on out from most winnable to least winnable, this is the way I would stack them up.

  1. at Georgia
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Missouri
  4. South Carolina
  5. Alabama
  6. at Arkansas
  7. at Auburn
  8. at Tennessee

If the goal is to get to .500, then the Mississippi State basketball team needs to go no worse than 5-3 over their final 8 games of the season. That means they would need to beat Georgia, Texas A&M, Missouri, South Carolina, and Alabama. If they lose to any of those 5 teams, they have to replace one of those losses with a win against Arkansas, Auburn, or Tennessee.

The good news is this team is capable of winning all of these games if they play a complete game and put their best effort on the court. If they could find a way to win 6 or 7 of these games, then a solid seed is still in the works, especially if they strung a few wins together in the SEC Tournament.

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But the time has long passed for the Mississippi State basketball team to get some wins. The Bulldogs need a win Tuesday night to keep this losing streak at two. Lose against Alabama, and the odds of going to the NCAA Tournament dip significantly.