final four preview: mississippi state
By Mike Gilpatrick
March 29th, 2018
March 29th, 2018
The Louisville Cardinals once again play a team from Starkville, Mississippi; hoping to finally beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have ended Football, and Men's Basketball's seasons.
Women's basketball looks to right the ship. This time, the game is on college basketball’s biggest stage: the 2018 Women’s Final Four. A National Championship berth is on the line.
Both teams are one-seeds, are similar. They each give up roughly 56 points. They’ve each only lost one conference game. They each force a lot of turnovers, and shoot very well. Mississippi State enters the game at 36-1, with their only loss coming to No. 8 South Carolina. They’ve rolled through their time in the tournament, winning all four games in double-digits.
Mississippi State has a couple advantages over Louisville. They’re a better three-point shooting team. Their leading scorer, senior Victoria Vivians, is hitting 48.5 percent from the field, and 41 percent from three. Overall, the Dogs are hitting 39.5 percent from deep.
Perhaps the reason is the high number of guards in the starting five: four. All of them are hitting over 40 percent from the field, and three are over 40 percent beyond the arc. They’re good shooters.
Mississippi State also forces more turnovers, and blocks more shots. Vic Schaefer’s squad doesn’t make many mistakes. They don’t foul nearly as much as their competition. They have almost 300 fewer turnovers. They have twice the amount of steals as they’ve given up.
Despite this, Louisville does have a few advantages. The Cards have a higher overall shooting percentage, about 100 more assists, more rebounds, and more steals a game. The Cards also have a slight height advantage, except for center and at one guard position.
How this game will go
Mississippi State will lock down one of Louisville’s post positions. Teaira McCowan, State’s Center, is 6-7; massive compared to Sam Fuehring, the player that will counter her. McCowan is a threat on defense, scooping up most boards, and blocking an absurd amount of shots. Mississippi State may play zone to shut down the inside, using their center.
Because of this, the Cardinals will be forced to have a strong outside game. Vivians will likely guard Asia Durr, and has a height advantage. Louisville may rely on Arica Carter and Jazmine Jones for a higher amount of shooting. When Louisville begins to pull away, they’ll test McCowan’s defense, and establish the inside game.
I originally had Mississippi State as my national champion in my personal bracket. But after a little digging, these two teams match up well. This may be the toughest game on either team’s schedule, aside from Uconn. FiveThirtyEight lists Louisville as having a 54 percent chance of advancing to the 2018 National Championship. I must agree. Louisville will finally beat a team from Mississippi.
My prediction: Louisville 76, Mississippi State 70