Mississippi State Basketball’s recent winning streak has put the Bulldogs back on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Heading into Saturday’s trip to Fayetteville, let’s take a look at where various “bracketologists” have State projected. Do any have the Bulldogs in the field?
Mississippi State Basketball is hot right now. The Bulldogs have won 4-straight games, bringing their season record to 16-8 (4-7 SEC). State, who ranks 48th in the NET and owns impressive victories over Marquette, TCU, and Missouri, is beginning to build a resume worthy of NCAA Tournament consideration. As a result, Mississippi State is starting to make appearances as a team on the bubble in numerous bracket projections. With a massive opportunity at a statement win awaiting them at Arkansas on Saturday, here’s where bracketologists currently have Mississippi State in relation to the NCAA Tournament field:
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: Under Consideration (9th team out of field)
Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: First Four Out (3rd team out of field)
Michael DeCourcy, Fox Sports: Next Four Out (5th team out of field)
Brian Bennett, the Athletic: First Four Out (3rd team out of field)
Staff, USA Today: Next Four Out (7th team out of field)
Chris Dobbertean, SB Nation: Next Four Out (5th team out of field)
Dave Ommen, Bracketville: Next Four Out (5th team out of field)
Lukas Harkins, Heat Check CBB: Next Four Out (5th team out of field)
Rocco Miller, The Bracketeer: First Four Out (3rd team out of field)
As you can see, Mississippi State still has plenty of work to do in the eyes of major bracketologists, as none currently have the Bulldogs in their projected tournament fields. Still, there are some varying opinions as to how far out of the field State is at the moment. Three bracketologists have the Bulldogs amongst their “First Four Out”, meaning they have Mississippi State just knocking on the door of the tournament. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, on the other hand, isn’t quite as bullish, having State all the way down at 9th in his pecking order of teams on the wrong side of the bubble.
The biggest negatives on MSU’s current resume are their non-conference strength of schedule, which ranks 233rd, and their 2-4 record in road games (with neither win coming against quality competition). State’s 4-8 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2 competition isn’t helping much either, though their performance in such games isn’t drastically different than that of other bubble teams.
The Bulldogs can boost their resume significantly with a win at Arkansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks rank 23rd in the NET, and a win would give Mississippi State a Quad 1 road victory, something they do not currently possess. While certainly not a “must-win” game, beating the Hogs would go a long way in helping MSU reach the NCAA Tournament in their 1st year under Chris Jans. I would expect to see State vault above the cutline in some of the bracket projections above if they can get it done.