There’s basketball still to be played for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Mississippi State missed out on dancing in the NCAA Tournament, but will have the opportunity to play in Humphrey Coliseum one more time.
State hosts the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament. When you play in the Southeastern Conference, teams don’t set goals at the beginning of the season that say, “we want to win the NIT,' but when you’re dealt a bid to the NIT, you accept it and go represent your university well.
On Tuesday evening that’s exactly what the Bulldogs will set out to do.
“Naturally, we are disappointed we are not playing in the NCAA Tournament, but at the same time we are looking forward to the NIT,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said in a release. “UMass had a great year and is playing extremely well in a very competitive conference. They are very talented and the thing that stands out is how deep they are.”
The No. 4 seeded Bulldogs, once a lock for the NCAA Tournament, played their way out of the Big Dance by dropping six of their final eight games, including four losses to sub-.500 programs, UGA (twice), South Carolina, and Auburn. This postseason opportunity is the 18th in school history and the 11th for Stansbury.
State’s opponent, No. 5 seed UMass, dropped an 84-80 decision to the eventual A-10 conference champion St. Bonaventure in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The Minutemen enter the NIT with a 22-11 record with signature wins over Xavier, Saint Louis, No. 24 Temple, and Davidson. They also have wins over five teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I’m thankful for another opportunity, especially after leaving the SEC Tournament on a sour note,” MSU senior All-SEC guard Dee Bost said. “As a senior, I’m looking forward to playing at least one more game at the Hump.”
The NIT bracket features four SEC members LSU (No. 6 seed), Tennessee (No. 1 seed), and Ole Miss (No. 2 seed) in addition to MSU.
Should the Bulldogs advance past UMass, they’ll face the winner of Seton Hall and Stony Brook.
Tickets will be available for $20 for Bulldog Club members and the general public, and $4 for MSU students.