Mar 20, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans during practices at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1 Preview: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State

Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament is already underway. Michigan State and Mississippi State play Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

The game is part of the Tournament’s West Regional First Round matchups. The Spartans and Bulldogs play the first game of the West Region at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The two MSU teams are neck-and-neck as Mississippi State is ranked No. 8 coming into the tournament, while Michigan State is right behind them at No. 9. It is expected to be a tight and energetic match.

Michigan State, the “Underdog”

The Spartans are no rookie to March Madness. This year, they’re making their 26th straight appearance in the Tournament. They have made 34 total appearances and have reached the Final Four 10 times.

They may be one seed behind the Bulldogs, but the Spartans play in the Big 10 conference and have an overall record of 19-14 and went 10-10 in conference games.

Michigan State averages 73.1 points per game. On average, 18.2 of those points are scored by Tyson Walker, a 6-foot-1 senior guard.

Malik Hall also leads the team with an average of 5.6 rebounds per game and A.J. Hoggard with an average of 5.2 assists per game.

Bulldogs at No. 8

Mississippi State is not as big of a name as Michigan State in regard to March Madness tournament history; however, Mississippi State is making its second straight appearance in the tournament under coach Chris Jans.

Mississippi is in the SEC and played schools like South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Missouri. They went 21-13 overall and 8-10 in conference play.

The Bulldogs are led by 5-foot-10 freshman guard Josh Hubbard, who averages 17.1 points per game. Despite having an age and height disadvantage against Walker, the Spartan’s leading guard, Hubbard is only scoring an average of 1.1 points below Walker.

Another key player and team leader for the Bulldogs is Cameron Matthew. He leads the team in four other areas: rebounds (6.9), assists (2.9), steals, (2.0) and blocks (0.7).

Up Next

The winner of Thursday’s match will play the winner of North Carolina vs. Wagner on Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

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