Wednesday night was lots of fun for Mississippi State basketball fans. The Bulldogs upset #5 Tennessee in Starkville for their biggest win of the season, and frankly, their biggest win in years. This was Mississippi State basketball's first win over a top-5 team since 2002.
While it's great to be able to boast a win over a highly-ranked opponent, what's truly important is how this win boosts Mississippi State's tournament resume. Not only were the Volunteers highly-ranked by the AP voters, the metrics the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses to select and seed teams for the tournament also viewed Tennessee as one of the best teams in the country.
Even after falling in Starkville, Tennessee is 6th in both the NET and KenPom. This is about as good as a win as you could ask for if you're Mississippi State. Barring a collapse by the Volunteers, it's a win that should hold up as very strong come Selection Sunday.
Naturally, State's tournament resume just got a whole lot stronger. One of the biggest flaws the Bulldogs had prior to this victory was the lack of big time wins. They've now changed that. Let's look how that's been reflected in the latest bracketology.
Current Bracket Projections
ESPN: 9-seed, South Region
CBS Sports: 9-seed, Midwest Region
Fox Sports: 11-seed, South Region
On3: 9-seed, South Region
Bracketville: 9-seed, West Region
Bracketometry: Not yet updated, safely in field per Bracket Dom on "X"
The Athletic: 9-seed, Midwest Region
Making the Madness: 9-seed, Midwest Region
T3 Bracketology: 10-seed
JBR Bracketology: 8-seed
Bracket Matrix Average: 10-seed (several brackets not yet updated since Tennessee win)
You may have noticed I changed up some of the bracketologists this week. That's because some of the usual rotation haven't updated since Mississippi State took down the Volunteers. Ironically enough there were quite a few bracket updates that went out just before that win. Most of those bracketologists had State has one of the last teams in the field following their loss to South Carolina. But as you see, those who have updated mostly have the Bulldogs in the range of a 9-seed, safely in the field.
MSU's resume significantly improved after the win over Tennesse. The Bulldogs moved up into the top-30 of the NET, currently 28th. Their KenPom/BPI (predictive) average is at 27.5. The predictive metrics already had a fairly high opinion of the Bulldogs, so the biggest improvement for State came with their KPI/Strength of Record (resume) average. That value moved up to 27th after being in the mid-40s previously.
Owning a Quad 1 victory over a team that all the predictive metrics view as a top-10 team changed the Bulldogs profile completely. Simply playing that game moved MSU's strength of schedule up to 101st, about an 80-spot improvement. That number will continue to improve throughout SEC play.
There's still somewhat of a cap on State's resume because of the Quad 4 loss to Southern and a poor non-conference strength of schedule (241). They're probably about two seed lines below their actual quality as a team because of those factors, but unfortunately that's just a price they'll have to pay.
Regardless, beating Tennessee put Mississippi State in a great position. They'd undoubtedly be in the Big Dance if it were being held today. And now they get another opportunity to take down a top-10 NET team in Alabama. If the Bulldogs can protect their home court against the Tide, they'd take another big step towards solidifying a tournament resume.