Mississippi State Returns to NCAA Tournament for Second-Straight Season

It's official. Mississippi State is back in the NCAA Tournament. Who did the Bulldogs draw in the bracket?

Mar 15, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (1) shoots against
Mar 15, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (1) shoots against / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Put on your dancing shoes, Bulldogs. You're back in March Madness.

After a 21-13 season that included a trip to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, Mississippi State was selected for the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season. This is the first time MSU has participated in consecutive tournaments since the 2008 and 2009 seasons under Rick Stansbury.

After becoming the first coach to lead the Bulldogs to 20+ win seasons in each of his first two years, HC Chris Jans also became the first coach in Mississippi State history to begin his career taking the Bulldogs to consecutive trips to the Big Dance.

Mississippi State basketball is the 8-seed in the West Region

State went into the SEC Tournament needing to make a statement if they wanted to be certain about returning to the NCAA Tournament. Make a statement they did, obliterating SEC 1-seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals.

Most bracketologists agreed that dominating the Vols would move State safely into the field. That was the case, as State found itself off the bubble as an 8-seed in the tournament. After having to go to Dayton for the play-in games after being one of the "Last Four In" in 2023, it's nice to see Mississippi State basketball solidly in the 64-team bracket on Selection Sunday.

Mississippi State basketball will face 9-seed Michigan State in Charlotte on Thursday

Mississippi State basketball's first round matchup is with the college basketball blue blood Michigan State Spartans Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tom Izzo's squad earned a 9-seed after a 19-14 season. Though the Spartans didn't haven't played a season that quite lives up to the standard in East Lansing, they're still capable of playing at a high level.

Michigan State owns impressive wins over Baylor and Illinois, and they gave 1-seed Purdue all they could handle in both meetings this season. And Tom Izzo has certainly shown he can go on runs with teams that didn't always impress in the regular season.

Michigan State is a very good defensive team, just like the Bulldogs. This should be a fun battle in Charlotte.

The winner of Mississippi State and Michigan State will have a tall task ahead of them

Regardless of who comes out on top between the Bulldogs and Spartans, a very difficult matchup is likely looming. North Carolina earned the 1-seed in the West region, and the Tarheels get to play the opening weekend in their home state. Assuming they get through their 16-seed matchup (which recent years have shown isn't a given), they'll likely have a massive home court advantage over either Mississippi State or Michigan State.

Charlotte was probably the third-best landing spot for Mississippi State basketball behind Memphis and Omaha. It's in the South and is a reasonable trip for State fans to make. But if State can get past Sparty, they'll have to deal with a road environment in the second round.

Still, the most important thing is that Mississippi State basketball is back in the NCAA Tournament. It's been a roller-coaster season thus far for the Bulldogs, but they've achieved their ultimate goal of returning to the Big Dance.

Time to make a run.