2007 Mississippi State Bulldogs Basketball Preview
The Mississippi State Bulldogs (21- 14 overall, 8- 8 SEC West) surprised everyone but us in our college basketball picks and finished tied for first in the SEC West last season. They then went deep into the NIT, losing in the semifinals to West Virginia 63- 62. Rick Stansbury’s (170- 89 in eight years at Mississippi State and overall) Bulldogs have not been to the Big Dance since 2005. This could be the year that this highly competitive team gets back into the March Madness lines.
The Bulldogs started out slowly last season and then gained momentum. The team finished third in scoring (76.9 PPG) and fifth in scoring defense 68.5 PPG). They were eighth in assists (14.6 APG), fifth in turnovers (14.0 TPG) and sixth in rebounding margin (plus-2.8). They hit frees at the rate of 66.5%, which was third worst in the conference.
Forward/center Charles Rhodes (13.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 55.4 FG%), now a senior, was exceptional at times last season. This season, Rhodes has to find consistency for the Bulldogs to succeed. Sophomore Jarvis Varnado (5.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 64.7 FG%) carried the nickname “the human flyswatter” last season. His 1.9 BPG last year may just be the start of something big. Freshmen Kodi Augustus and Elgin Bailey will be used immediately in the frontcourt. Augustus can hit from outside, while Bailey offers skilled play. When we bet on college basketball, we'll certainly be looking at these players closely.
Junior point guard Jamont Gordon (16.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.3 APG, 41.9 FG%) is one of the best players in the conference. He can drive the basket with power, hit from the outside and vigorously rebound. He’s also a fine playmaker, dishing off assists with ease and finesse. Sophomores Ben Hansbrough (7.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 42.9 FG%) and Barry Stewart (9.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 40.0 FG%) will both see important minutes across from Gordon. This is one of the best backcourts in the SEC, which includes some talented freshmen. Look for sharp-shooting Ravern Johnson to get valuable court time.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs look even better than they did last season. If Rhodes and Gordon can do their jobs consistently, then the Bulldogs are set to have an impressive season and make their ninth NCAA appearance in the tournament brackets.