MSU women earn No. 1 seed for NCAA Tournament

Mississippi State women's basketball team celebrates their NCAA placement on Monday night.
Staff Writer

March Madness is officially underway in college hoops and the women’s basketball championship run for Mississippi State will start on its home floor for the third-straight season.

The NCAA selection show revealed on Monday night that the Bulldogs will host the first two rounds of the tournament yet again. This time, they’ll do so as one of four No. 1 seeds. A top seed in the NCAA Tournament is a first for any MSU hoops team. The Bulldogs joined UConn, Notre Dame and Louisville as the top seeds in the tournament.

“We’re so proud of the kids," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. "I appreciate the committee’s consideration. Our schedule was very, very difficult. I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to have 10,000 people in here for an NCAA Tournament game.” 

State (32-1) was selected in the Kansas City Regional, which has the Bulldogs slated to go to the city in Missouri if they win the first two games. The top four seeds in the Regional are No. 2 Texas, No. 3 UCLA, and No. 4 North Carolina State.

The first two rounds in Starkville have the Bulldogs set to host No. 16 seed Nicholls in game one. The other matchup in Starkville is No. 8-seeded Syracuse and No. 9-seeded Oklahoma State. MSU has played both Oklahoma State and Syracuse this season. The Bulldogs beat the Cowgirls 79-76 at the Humphrey Coliseum on December 3 and the Orange 76-65 on December 21 in Las Vegas. MSU is slated to play on Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.

“I think when you play a team more than once it makes it harder because they know you and your personnel,” Bulldog senior guard and former Starkville High School player Blair Schaefer said. “They are obviously trying to fix what they had broken the first game so it just makes the mindset much more intense. You have to understand that everyone is coming at you with their best shot this time of year.”

The selection to the tournament was the 10th in school history for MSU, the fourth for Schaefer since arriving to Starkville in 2012-13. He’s sent five of his six teams to postseason, including the last four to the NCAA Tournament. Schaefer is 8-3 in the NCAA Tournament in Starkville.

Schaefer is just excited about getting his team back on the court. The Bulldogs are coming off a stunning first loss of the season when they lost to South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game just over a week ago in a 62-51 contest.

It was a frustrating afternoon for coach and players as MSU shot just 3-of-18 from 3-point range. That game is over and the Gamecocks are now on the opposite side of this bracket for a second-straight year with only another national title rematch in the possibilities.

Coach Schaefer wouldn’t mind that, of course, but he’ll take the first game against NIcholls to start things off on Saturday.

“I’m always anxious to see how we respond after our first loss,” Vic Schaefer said. “We had some time off and now we’ll get ready to play.”