SEC Tournament Preview: Round 2: No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 13 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Injury-laden Mississippi State put in a great performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks and Rick Ray’s team is showing positive signs for the future. Mississippi State needs to get a competent big man who can rebound and players like Craig Sword to start hitting free throws if they want to start winning next season. This game will most likely be the end of the line for the Bulldogs, but Mississippi State had a good run to finish the season with a few wins after a mid-season 13-game losing streak.
Tennessee is playing outstanding basketball to finish the season, just like last year. The Volunteers will be coming off of a tight victory over the (now healthy) Missouri Tigers. Cuonzo Martin continuously gets the Volunteers into a position to succeed. If any team in the conferences can steal the SEC title from the favorites, the Florida Gators, it’s this one. Tennessee, winning eight of the last nine games in SEC play, is bringing more momentum to the tournament than any other team in the SEC.
The Bulldogs should lose this game by about 15 points–Tennessee’s offense is too good. Don’t expect Jordan McRae to be the scoring star he’s been throughout the season in this game, because he’ll most likely settle for assists. This game will be all about Jarnell Stokes and what he can do against Mississippi State’s poor interior game. The Volunteers may not win the SEC tournament, but a win against the Bulldogs and a win against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the next round will cement an NCAA tournament berth.