Mississippi State Women's Basketball Firmly on the Bubble Entering SEC Tournament

Mississippi State women's basketball enters the SEC Tournament firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Is their first SEC Tournament game a must-win?
Jan 7, 2024; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Lauren Park-Lane (3)
Jan 7, 2024; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Lauren Park-Lane (3) / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC Women's Basketball Tournament gets underway this week in Greenville, South Carolina. After closing out the regular season with a home win over Missouri, Mississippi State women's basketball enters the SEC Tournament as the 8-seed. The Bulldogs (21-10, 8-8 SEC) will face Texas A&M (18-11, 6-10 SEC) in second round action in Greenville.

Mississippi State goes into the SEC Tournament with work to do if they're going to reach the NCAA Tournament. After being projected safely in the field in early February, State went on a five-game losing streak that put their tournament hopes in very serious jeopardy. And had the Bulldogs lost to Missouri, their chances at making the tournament would likely have been slim.

As it is, MSU is still on thin ice with regards to returning to the Big Dance. Just how close are the margins? Let's look at the latest bracketology...

Mississippi State Women's Basketball Bracketology

ESPN's Charlie Creme is the go-to source for women's basketball bracketology. And right now, he has Mississippi State women's basketball right near the cutline. Creme has the Bulldogs amongst the "Last Four In". He does have them at the top of that group, but they're in a position where a single result could knock them out of the field.

Creme has State matched up with Washington State for their First Four game. In his bracket, the winner of that game would face off with 6-seed Louisville in the Storrs Regional hosted by UConn. That would be quite the regional for State were they to advance into it. Louisville is Sam Purcell's former team, and State, of course, has some pretty significant history with UConn.

If that projection held, it would mean MSU would participate in the First Four games for the second-consecutive season. Last year the Bulldogs defeated Illinois in the First Four and then upset Creighton to become the first team in the history of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament to advance from a play-in game to the Round of 32.

But if Mississippi State is one of the Last Four In, that means their opening game in the SEC Tournament is critical...

Mississippi State Women's Basketball faces must-win versus Texas A&M

With the Bulldogs teetering so close to the cutline, there's no question about what must happen for them to reach the NCAA Tournament. State must beat Texas A&M in their first SEC Tournament game if they want to remain in the field for March Madness.

Losing would almost certainly knock them out regardless of circumstances, but interestingly, A&M specifically is in a position where they could overtake State with a win. Charlie Creme has the Aggies as his First Team Out of the field heading into their game with State. If Texas A&M wins, they'll take Mississippi State's spot.

If Mississippi State women's basketball wants to go dancing for the second-straight year, they have to beat the Aggies on Thursday.