Mississippi State has done more than enough to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years and will try to begin the postseason on a good note when it takes on 11th-seeded Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. The sixth-seeded Bulldogs won six of their final eight games of the regular season to hit double digits in SEC victories for the first time since 2008.
They are led by senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, the top scorer in league play at 19.4 points per game and an All-SEC first-team selection. "This tournament is going to be incredible this year," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland told reporters. "There are so many good teams and so many teams that are capable of winning it. The bottom half of the bracket is particularly difficult, and the one thing about postseason play is that it's a whole new season for everybody and a whole new beginning." Among those teams in the bottom half of the bracket is Texas A&M, who knocked off Vanderbilt 69-52 in the first round Wednesday night. Sophomore guard Savion Flagg scored a career-high 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting as the Aggies cruised in their first game since reports surfaced that coach Billy Kennedy would not return next season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network LINE: Check Intertops for the latest line
ABOUT TEXAS A&M (14-17): Flagg is averaging 22 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last four games, including a 23-point effort in the 92-81 loss to Mississippi State in the regular-season finale Saturday, and senses a togetherness that could propel a run in Nashville. "I would take these guys over anybody," Flagg told the SEC Network after Wednesday's win. "We fight every day. We're together in the locker room, we do stuff off the court. It's just a bond that we have and I wouldn't trade anyone on this team." Sophomore guard Jay Jay Chandler contributed 13 points and a career-high five steals against Vanderbilt.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (22-9): Junior guard Lamar Peters scored 21 points and Weatherspoon had 20 in last week's win over the Aggies, putting a cap on an impressive campaign for the Bulldogs in a very competitive SEC. "It was big for us to get to 22 wins," Howland told reporters after the victory. "The regular season is now over and you look at our body of work and it's impressive. We've won 10 of our last 16 games in what I think is the best league in the country." Peters averages 11.5 points and 5.3 assists - fifth in the SEC - while freshman standout Reggie Perry hauls in 7.1 boards per contest, including 10.3 over the last four.
1. Weatherspoon has 1,956 career points and needs 75 more to pass Bailey Howell (1957-59) for second on the school's all-time list.
2. Chandler is averaging 13 points over his last three games while making 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
3. The Bulldogs have claimed the last three meetings. The winner meets No. 3 seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals Friday night.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 78, Texas A&M 70 Bet Now
See all the NCAAB basketball Predictions