Mississippi State Basketball: Examining the Resume Heading into SEC Play

Mississippi State basketball has wrapped up the non-conference portion of it's schedule. Heading into SEC play, where does the Bulldogs' resume currently stand, and what must they do to assure a second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament?

Mar 14, 2023; Dayton, OH, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (1) goes to the basket
Mar 14, 2023; Dayton, OH, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (1) goes to the basket / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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How does Mississippi State basketball look right now?

At the time of writing, Mississippi State finds itself ranked 34th in the NET. The Bulldogs have yet to face a Quad 1 opponent. Washington State and Northwestern both previously counted towards the Q1 record, but with both falling as of late, they have become Quad 2 wins for State. MSU's Quad 2 record is 4-1, with the loss coming at Georgia Tech. They're 2-0 against Quad 3, and 5-1 against Quad 4, with the home loss to Southern serving as an unfortunate black-eye on the resume.

Strength of schedule isn't favorable for the Bulldogs at the moment. Their overall SOS ranks 281st, and their non-conference SOS is 278th. State has faced five power conference opponents, but unfortunately only 54th ranked Washington State is the only opponent currently in the top-75 of the NET. Four games against sub-200 NET teams is also hurting them. Obviously the SEC slate will help the overall SOS dramatically, but that NC SOS improving hinges on whether or not the teams they've already faced can improve over the next two and half months.

Alongside the NET, the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses four metrics to evaluate teams: KenPom, BPI, KPI, and Strength of Record (previously the Sagarin rating was factored in, but it is not being produced this season). KenPom and BPI are "quality" or "predictive" metrics. They judge teams by their efficiency to show how good they truly are regardless of record. KPI and SOR are "resume" metrics. They rate teams by the quality of their wins and losses.

Both KenPom and BPI rate Mississippi State as the 30th best team in the country. KPI rates MSU 28th while SOR rates them 42nd for an average resume rank of 35th. Both those averages are right in line with MSU's NET rank of 34th. Traditionally, the selection committee favors teams resume metrics when choosing which teams make the field and favor quality metrics to field the selected teams.

The Bulldogs' overall profile matches that of a bubble team. They own a few solid wins but no truly impressive ones, have an inexcusably bad loss, and a lacking strength of schedule. But on the flipside, their predictive ranks are in good shape, and State's resume metrics are still strong enough relative to the rest of the country to get them in the field. Bracket Matrix, a resource that averages the projected brackets of numerous bracketologists, currently has Mississippi State as the second 10-seed in the field.

While reaching the Big Dance is the ultimate goal for State, most fans would likely be a bit disappointed if the Bulldogs find themselves seeded that lowly. Being within that range would likely mean some sweating on Selection Sunday, and the expectation is for Mississippi State to comfortably make the field.

So what will that take?