Mississippi State Basketball has had a difficult season, but the Bulldogs weathered the storm and are fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. Mississippi State will start its SEC Tournament on Thursday as they get ready to take on the Florida Gators in the first round of the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee. Mississippi State and Florida met once in the regular season, with the Gators coming into the Hump in Starkville, Mississippi, and defeating Mississippi State 61-59.
For Mississippi State, as it stands, Joe Lunardi has the Bulldogs listed as the last four, but Head Coach Chris Jans knows his Bulldogs still have a lot of room to make the case a bit stronger for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for his Mississippi State Basketball program. Mississippi has no choice other than win on Thursday and have a shot at Alabama on Friday.
Thursday, without question, is the biggest Mississippi State game of the year. At this point in the season, Mississippi State is hanging on by a thread to the NCAA Tournament. A loss on Thursday to Florida would push Mississippi State Basketball to an uncomfortable seat as they await Selection Sunday and sweat out hearing their name selected to compete in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
For first-year Head Coach Chris Jans, an NCAA Tournament bid in his first season would provide his program with enough of a springboard into the future of Mississippi State Basketball. It all begins on Thursday of the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. There are no more chances for wins if you don’t take care of Florida first.
In the first meeting of the season between Mississippi State and Florida, Colin Castleton led the way for the Gators with 13 points and four rebounds. However, Castleton suffered a season-broken hand a few weeks back, and the Gators have not been in the same sense.
Mississippi State will have the advantage in the post on Thursday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Mississippi State will turn to Tolu Smith, as usual, to lead the way for the Bulldogs on Thursday against Florida. However, Mississippi State will need others, such as DJ Jeffries, Cameron Matthews, and Shakeel Moore, to produce the extra spark needed to make a run in the SEC Tournament. Mississippi State has shown life this season in the scoring category but will need to find it again if they want to hang around until the weekend rounds of the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Mississippi State and Florida will tip off on Thursday in the first game of the day at noon. For those unable to make the trip to Nashville, Tennessee, all the action will be on the SEC Network.