The Mississippi State Bulldogs came into the 2013-14 college basketball season with the most talented returning freshmen outside of the Kentucky Wildcats. Craig Sword, Fred Thomas and Gavin Ware, along with Senior Colin Borchert, have led the Bulldogs to an impressive 10 – 3 record.
Unfortunately, Mississippi State’s non-conference schedule will not be difficult enough for them to make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Its best win was against the 9 – 6 South Florida Bulls, who won’t even come close to a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth. Its losses came against one of the lower teams from the Big 12, the 9 – 4 TCU Horned Frogs, a decent 11 – 3 Utah State Aggies squad and the 10 – 5 UNLV Rebels.
With conference play starting, the Bulldogs won’t be able to defeat the upper level SEC teams. They have the talent to make games close, but MSU will struggle against teams like the LSU Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers and Florida Gators, who will beat them up physically and out-rebound them. Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs though; they could pull off an unexpected win or two that keeps a 2014 NCAA Tournament hopeful SEC team on the outside looking in.
Mississippi State has talent all over the floor, but it is not ready to compete in the SEC this season. Rick Ray has the Bulldogs on the right path, but it will be another year or two before they are deep enough to compete with the top half of the SEC. Expect Mississippi State to miss out on the 2014 NCAA Tournament and finish between 8th and 11th in the SEC.