The Mississippi State men’s basketball team survived round two of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in an overtime thriller Thursday courtesy of a heroic performance from none other than Tolu Smith.
Now the 8-seed Bulldogs will square off against 1-seed Alabama in the quarterfinals, and one college basketball expert believes the Bulldogs have a viable chance to oust the conference’s top team.
“If you’re asking me what team scares me the most for Alabama and Alabama fans, it would be Mississippi State with the way they play physically,” ESPN’s Mark Wise said on SportsTalk Mississippi. “I think they feel like they have a certain formula to maybe match up with their length and strength with Alabama.”
Possibly induced by the recent revelation that Crimson Tide star player Brandon Miller allegedly supplied the gun a former teammate used to kill someone, Alabama is shooting 41% from the field and 21% from three-point range over the last two weeks.
“[Alabama] has not shot the ball well in the last two weeks, and I get all the distraction conversation and I don’t know if that’s played a role or not,” Wise continued. “Whether or not that’s impacted their shooting or not, I don’t know but I know the timelines match up. They’re going to have to fix that.”
Mississippi State, on the other hand, played Alabama tough during two regular season matchups. On Dec. 28, the Bulldogs fell to the Tide 78-67 in Starkville, and on Jan. 25, Chris Jans’ squad was barely ousted 66-63 in Tuscaloosa.
Both teams will square off again Friday with Alabama entering the contest as an 8-point favorite.
How to watch:
When: Friday, March 10 at 12 p.m. CT
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
Players to watch: Tolu Smith (MSU, C), Shakeel Moore (MSU, G), Will McNair, Jr. (MSU, F), Brandon Miller (UA, F), Mark Sears (UA, G), and Jahvon Quinerly (UA, G).