Mississippi State is trying to play its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble, but visiting South Carolina could damage the Bulldogs' chances on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs are trying to sweep the regular-season series after posting an 81-76 victory at South Carolina on Jan. 31.

Mississippi State has won two straight to reach the coveted 20-win plateau and become one of the six teams tied for third place in the SEC, but a weak non-conference schedule and a No. 61 RPI ranking are working against its postseason argument. A home win over the Gamecocks might not do much to help the case, but a loss certainly would damage it. South Carolina has won back-to-back contests following a six-game skid. The Gamecocks snapped the losing streak with a stunning triumph over conference-leading Auburn and followed with a 66-57 victory over Georgia on Wednesday.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (15-13, 6-9 SEC): The Gamecocks made a season-high 13 3-pointers against Georgia and committed a season-low five turnovers - an atypical performance from an inconsistent backcourt. The only guard the team has been able to rely on consistently is Frank Booker (11.9 points), who scored a career-high 25 points in the first meeting with the Bulldogs. Chris Silva (14.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) is the squad's go-to guy, although he has averaged only 11.8 points over his last five games.

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (20-8, 8-7): Much of the focus rightly is on the backcourt duo of brothers Quinndary (14.8 points, six rebounds) and Nick (11.2 points) Weatherspoon. The frontcourt combination of Aric Holman (11.1 points, 6.6 rebounds) and freshman Abdul Ado (8.4, 6.9) might be just as important, though. Both are excellent shot-blockers and Ado has stepped up his offensive game in SEC play as he scored a career-high 19 points in Tuesday's 93-81 victory at Texas A&M.


1. Mississippi State is 17-1 at home this season.

2. Silva's 243 free-throw attempts are the third-most in the nation, and he has taken at least 10 foul shots in nine of the Gamecocks' 15 conference games.

3. Ado's 53 blocked shots are the fourth-most by a Mississippi State freshman in school history.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State 72, South Carolina 68

NCAA Basketball , basketball