17th ranked Mississippi State (38-16-1), for the 17th straight time and 24th time in 27 tournaments, will be appearing in the SEC Tournament this week. First up for the Bulldogs is in-state rival Ole Miss (33-23), a team MSU is 3-1 against this season.
MSU and Ole Miss faced each other in Oxford in a three-game series that MSU swept by scores of 2-0, 7-0 and 8-4. The Rebels defeated MSU 5-1 in the Mayor's Trophy Game.
Coach Polk has selected sophomore right-hander Alan Johnson (5-3, 4.08) to start while Ole Miss will likely start freshman lefty Stephen Head (3-1, 1.06).
Johnson won the 7-0 shutout by two-hitting the Rebels. Since that shutout, Johnson has a 1-3 record with an ERA of 6.97. The one victory was a complete-game shutout of number 1 seed LSU.
Starting just his third game this season, Head has been Ole Miss' closer throughout the year, earning 13 saves in 16 relief appearances. Teams are batting .187 against him. In his 2 starts, both which he won, he threw 16 innings, allowing 1 run on 10 hits and 2 walks while striking out 10. Both starts, which were played in Oxford, were against SEC competitors Alabama and South Carolina.
Against MSU, he has thrown 1/3 of an inning, allowing no runs, hits, walks or strikeouts.
Hitting: MSU .305 - Ole Miss .283
Runs Per Game: MSU 6.7 - Ole Miss 5.4
MSU Against LHP: .332 (2nd in SEC)
Ole Miss Against RHP: .273 (11th in SEC)
Pitching: MSU 3.37 - Ole Miss 3.47
Fielding: MSU .977 - Ole Miss .962
Last 10 Games: MSU 6-4 - Ole Miss 5-5
Record Against Bracket Teams: MSU 8-1 - Ole Miss 2-7
The winner of the MSU-Ole Miss game advances to an 8 p.m. winner's bracket matchup against either top-seeded LSU or No. 8 seed Arkansas. The team that fall in opening round competition will meet in a 1 p.m. elimination round game.
Both games can be seen on CSS (Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast).
MSU in line to host an NCAA Tournament site?...
Much has been speculated about MSU chances of hosting an NCAA Tournament site. What do I think?
I really like MSU's chances for quite a few reasons. I took all the emotions out of it and only included facts.
There has been talk on my message board about Southern Miss receiving an NCAA host site instead of MSU. What do I think? Possible but not likely. Why, you ask? I'll use the same criteria that I used above as a comparison.
# - Source Boyd's World.
Just about every factor favors MSU over USM.
By the way, do I think this means Southern Miss won't receive a bid? No. In fact, I consider this year the best chance Southern Miss has ever had of receiving a bid. There is some history on their side. During three of the past four years, at least one C-USA team has hosted a sub-regional, so a precedence has been set.
I attended my second southeast Nike football camp this past Sunday at Auburn University. Last year, the camp, which is bid on by colleges, was held at the University of Alabama.
Although the second half of the camp was rained out, the 400+ players who attended were able to have their height and weights measured as well as go through the tests.
Tests included bench pressing 185 pounds as many times as possible, vertical jump, 40 yard dash and 20 yard shuttle run. The test results will be put online as soon as they become available.
A record number of Mississippi high school players attended this year's southeast Nike Camp. I had over 140 players invited and between 50 and 60 attended, most of whom I met while working one of the weight stations.
Although he didn't participate in the camp, I did get to meet Cortez McCraney, a 6-foot-4, 219-pound OLB/DE from Southaven High School. Cortez told me that he has an offer from Mississippi State and has received spring evaluation recruiting calls from Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia as well as Mississippi State. This spring was his first year to play football. According to his coach, MSU DL coach John Blake was so impressed, he later offered Cortez a scholarship. Auburn appears to be very interested in Cortez as well. Cortez told me his favorite colleges are Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Marshall and Middle Tennessee State. He also told me that Coach Blake likes him because he is such a hard hitter.
It was like a who's who among Mississippi high school players. Although there were other Mississippi players in attendance, these were the ones that I either saw or was told were there.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.