UF/MSU Not as Similar as They Seem

At first glance the Florida Gators and Mississippi State Bulldogs would seem to be in similar situations as it related to the NCAA Tournament. That first glance however would not be particularly illuminating.

Florida (21-11, 9-7) is in much better shape for the big dance than is Mississippi State (20-10. 9-7) for several reasons.

East is the Beast ---- Florida's 9-7 is much more impressive than State's 9-7 because the Gators reside in the vastly superior SEC Eastern Division. The Gators had to play the top three teams in the SEC East twice, while the Bulldogs only had to face them once each.

Head-to head ---- In addition to the Gators playing on the tougher side of the SEC race, Florida also beat the Bulldogs 69-62 in Gainesville on February sixth. Vernon Macklin (20/6) battled Jarvis Varnado (16/13) on relatively even terms to the help key the win.

Non-conference resume ---- Mississippi State's only meaningful win outside the SEC is a win over Old Dominion. That's a decent win, but it doesn't compare with Florida's victories over Michigan State, Florida State and Tennessee just for openers.


One of the key issues entering the game will be the status of Mississippi State guard Dee Bost who is slowed by a hip pointer. Bost plays 35 minutes a game and averages 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

The Gators do not match up well with a pair of Bulldogs players. Ravern Johnson (13.5) and Barry Stewart (11.5) are guys Florida could struggle with. Johnson scored 30 in the first meeting between the teams while Stewart added a dozen.


State opened the season 15-3, 3-0 in the SEC. However since that point coach Rick Stansbury's team has gone just 6-7. The Bulldogs won the SEC tournament a year ago without the benefit of a first round bye.

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