Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


Can State make a run in the NCAA Tournament? Yes, but the Bulldogs must hit their freebies

Chris Jans’s Mississippi State Bulldogs went to 10-0 in a victory over Jackson State Wednesday night at Mississippi Coliseum, but there were some anxious moments before the Bulldogs pulled away in the final minutes. (Photo courtesy of Mike Mattina, Mississippi State.)JACKSON, MS
” data-image-caption=”

JACKSON, MS – December 14, 2022 – Mississippi State Graduate Assistant Carl Hall during the game between the Jackson State Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, MS. Photo By Mike Mattina

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?fit=336%2C248&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?fit=780%2C576&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=780%2C576&ssl=1″ alt class=”wp-image-1087353″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=1200%2C886&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=336%2C248&ssl=1 336w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=768%2C567&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=1536%2C1134&ssl=1 1536w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=1568%2C1158&ssl=1 1568w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=400%2C295&ssl=1 400w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?resize=706%2C521&ssl=1 706w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans.jpg?w=2003&ssl=1 2003w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chris-Jans-1200×886.jpg?w=370&ssl=1 370w” sizes=”(max-width: 780px) 100vw, 780px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Chris Jans has his Mississippi State Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year.

The Answer Man returns with all the answers to questions readers are asking about March Madness.

Q. What do you think about Mississippi State’s chances in the NCAA Tournament?

A. The Bulldogs could make a run, and I say this for a couple reasons. In the NCAA Tournament, every game is on the road and defense travels. Under Chris Jans, State plays excellent defense. The Bulldogs guard. They protect the rim. That will serve them well. The Bulldogs led the SEC in steals. They were third in defensive field goal percentage. They were first in three-point defense. Those are all reasons why they were 8-1 in neutral site games this season. Secondly, basketball’s postseason is all about playing your best in March – peaking, as the announcers put it. State played really well in the SEC Tournament, beating LSU and and fifth-ranked Tennessee both by double digits before losing a close one in the semifinals to No. 12 Auburn.

Rick Cleveland
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?fit=336%2C336&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?fit=400%2C400&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=400%2C400&ssl=1″ alt class=”wp-image-1022343″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?w=400&ssl=1 400w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=336%2C336&ssl=1 336w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=140%2C140&ssl=1 140w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=200%2C200&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=300%2C300&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?resize=100%2C100&ssl=1 100w, https://i0.wp.com/mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Rick-Cleveland2-crop.jpg?w=370&ssl=1 370w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>
Rick Cleveland

Q. What about the first round matchup with Michigan State?

A. As with most 8 and 9-seed games, it’s a virtual toss-up. Michigan State is a slight favorite, but I think State should be favored. Michigan State lost four of its last five regular season games and split two games in the Big 10 Tournament at Minneapolis. Give Michigan State a huge edge in NCAA Tournament familiarity. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are March Madness regulars. Michigan State has played in 26 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, the nation’s longest active streak and the third longest in history. That’s probably why the Spartans are favored.

Q. If I am a State fan, what should I worry about most?

A. That’s an easy one: free throw shooting. In the Big Dance, free throws often decide the outcome. And, for State, free throws have been anything but free. State was last in the SEC, and it wasn’t close with the Bulldogs hitting only 67%. That won’t cut it in the mid-to-late March. If you are into worrying, here’s a bigger reason to fret: Should No. 1 seed North Carolina advance, as expected, that’s the next opponent for the Mississippi State-Michigan State winner. In Charlotte, that would be almost like a home game for the Tar Heels.

 Q. Should I be worried about 19-year-old freshman Josh Hubbard, State’s leading scorer and recent winner of the Howell Trophy, playing for the first time under the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament?

A. Honestly, that would be the least of my worries. From what I can tell, Josh Hubbard is fearless. He can’t wait.

Q. It has been 28 years since Mississippi State became the only Magnolia State team to make it to the Final Four of the men’s tournament. Could it happen again?

A. The odds are definitely against it. In ’96, from mid-February forward, Richard Williams’ Bulldogs were as consistently as good as anyone in the country, including eventual national champion Kentucky. This State teams has not been nearly as consistent in February and March. As good as these Bulldogs are defensively, they do not have the inside defensive force that Erick Dampier provided 28 years ago. Plus, the free throw thing is really worrisome. It’s possible, not likely. The Vegas odds are 150 to 1 against State winning it all 33 to 1 against State making The Final Four. 

Q. Let’s switch to the women. Ole Miss and Jackson State are both dancing. What are their chances?

A. The Women’s NCAA Tournament is so much more top-heavy than the men. In reality, there are probably 20 men’s teams that could get hot at the right time and win it all. In the women’s tournament, I would take South Carolina, LSU and UConn, give you the rest of the field and give you odds. South Carolina is far and away the betting favorite and should be. Jackson State is a 33.5-point underdog to UConn in the first round. Coach Tomekia Reed’s team has little chance at all to advance, especially since it’s a home game for UConn. This should not take away from what Reed’s team has achieved, which is much. The Tigers went 18-0 (9-0 on the road) in the SWAC. They were perfect. That’s a heckuva feat.

Q. What about Iowa and Caitlin Clark?

A. Win or lose, Clark will surely make the NCAA Women’s Tournament TV ratings the highest in history. She has elevated the sport. All eyes are on Clark, but Iowa’s team just isn’t as athletic as the teams it must eventually beat to win it all. I’m talking about South Carolina, LSU and UConn, South Carolina especially.

Q. So, who you got to win the titles?

A. The UConn men and the South Carolina women. Yes, both are the betting favorites. There’s good reason for that. But if you’re looking for a darkhorse, take the Auburn men. The championship odds are 18-to-1 against the Tigers who have won six straight, seven of eight and 11 of their last 14. They are blistering hot at the right time.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles