TV/Stream: SECN / SECN+
Numbers: Hail Stats!
In disarray, having lost three of their last four, and with the hopes of a 1 seed now gone, tonight's win could very well help the team out of their funk.
It's just a matter of which team gets the win. Both Tennessee and MSU have lost three of four (UT having lost 4 of 6, but you get the point) and both are looking to turn things around tonight. It'll happen for one of them, and the other will slide even deeper into the bowels of the SEC standings.
The doppleganger effect is very much in play here: UT and MSU are much better at defense than offense, neither is particularly deadly at three point range, both are decent at free throws, and pacing is similar. Comparing stats is somewhat dubious; UT's SoS is #1 while MSU's is #84, and we're late enough in the season that it actually kinda matters. But still, we're looking at two teams that survive by defense and really really want to score in the paint.
Mississippi State is a young-ish team. The only senior is Sherise Williams, and she gets about 7 minutes a game in relief action. On the other hand, the two freshmen are Teaira McCowan (27 min/game) and Jazzmun Holmes (11 min/game). Everybody else is pretty well split evenly between sophomore and junior status. The starting five are likely as follows:
- Dominique Dillingham (shooting guard; about 29 min and 7 points per game)
- Victoria Vivians (forward; 29 minutes and 17 points/game, easily the top scorer on the team)
- Morgan William (point guard; about 5 assists/game, and second on the team at 9 points/game)
- Ketara Chapel (forward who takes few shots but takes good ones)
- Chinwe Okorie (center; 6'-5" and 6 rebounds/game)
Your guard-who-inexplicably-goes-off-against-Tennessee candidate is Dillingham. Even so, the key to stopping MSU is to keep the ball out of Vivians's hands. She doubles up any other player in terms of net points, but she also takes a large volume of shots to get there. If they're forced to look elsewhere, they'll likely not be able to run most of their sets in the halfcourt.
On the other side of the court, well... ok, if Kentucky was willing to run a zone against Tennessee, there's no reason to expect any different. Like the other bajillion games this year, it's a matter of whether Tennessee can beat the zone and do it consistently enough to score double digits in all four quarters.
Prediction: 62-56 Tennessee. Chris went with 65-57 MSU. You might want to have some caffeine on hand if you're planning on watching this one. It's going to be 40 minutes of rockfight.