It’s March so we have daylight saving time, a full moon, a Friday the 13th and of course my favorite, March Madness. The NCAA basketball tournament selections have already started as several of the smaller conference champs Winthrop, Bradley, Liberty, Utah State and Belmont are already in the dance. Those schools have automatic bids by having won their conference tournaments this past weekend. The rest of the field will unfold this week, and the final selections will be chosen on Sunday night after all the conference tournaments have been completed.
Mississippi State (20-11, 11-7) gained the fourth seed in the upcoming Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament that will be played in Nashville this week at Bridgestone Arena.
MSU whipped Ole Miss (15-16, 6-12), 69-44, on Senior Night in Starkville to gain a double bye in the conference tournament. It was also the Bulldogs' third straight 20-win season. Ole Miss will tangle with Georgia on Wednesday while State will play Florida, Ole Miss or Georgia on Friday afternoon in their first tournament game. Kentucky, LSU and Auburn also have double byes.
MSU & USM ladies still playing
The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (27-6) fell to top-ranked South Carolina (32-1) this past Sunday, 76-62. The Lady Bulldogs are assured of two home games for being a top 16 seed. The teams will be determined on March 16.
The Southern Mississippi Lady Golden Eagles will play Marshall in the Conference USA basketball tournament on Wednesday morning at the Star in Frisco, Texas. The Lady Eagles (15-15, 7-11) are the ninth seed. The Golden Eagles (9-22, 5-13) did not qualify for the conference tournament as they finished 13th and only the top 12 teams make the conference tournament.
MHSAA champs crowned
The Mississippi High School Activities Association crowned a dozen state basketball champions this week at Ole Miss. It was the first time that the state basketball championships were held on a college campus. Girls winners were Pine Grove, Ripley, Calhoun City, Columbus, Senatobia and Olive Branch. Boys champs crowned were Ingomar, Coahoma Co., St. Andrews, Greenwood, Jackson Callaway and Starkville.
College Diamond News
Ole Miss baseball is off to its best season in 20 seasons under Mike Bianco. Ole Miss (14-1) entered the week with a 14-game winning streak, the longest since the 1964 team won 17 straight. That is also the school record for consecutive wins.
After a short two-day excursion to UL-Monroe, the Rebels return home to host LSU in their first SEC action of the season.
Mississippi State (9-4) will play a top 5 team in Texas Tech at Biloxi in a two-game series before returning home to host Arkansas in their SEC opener this weekend. The Bulldogs did get some bad news in that pitcher J.T. Ginn will miss the season as he will undergo Tommy John Surgery. For a little bit the Bulldogs will also be without last year’s leading hitter in Tanner Allen, who has a broken hand.
Southern Mississippi (11-4) will open conference play this week at home as they host Florida International. The Eagles took two of three from Little Rock this past weekend.
As usual, Mississippi has some quality junior college baseball teams as Pearl River, Hinds, Northwest, Itawamba and Northeast are ranked in the top 12 in the country.
Louisiana Tech baseball will play a home series at Smith Wills Stadium this weekend as the Bulldogs will host Middle Tennessee. Tech’s baseball stadium was destroyed last April, and the Bulldogs will have to play at different venues this spring. Meridian native Lane Burroughs, who also has been an assistant USM and MSU, is the head coach.
Dale is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports since 1973.