The Mississippi State Bulldogs will take part in the women’s Final Four on Saturday. The Bulldogs find themselves back in the Final Four again for the second consecutive season. In order to reach the national championship for the second consecutive season, the Bulldogs have to go through the Louisville Cardinals first.
Mississippi State can defeat the Cardinals easily because of how dominant they are on the court. State’s head coach, Vic Schaefer, has put together a dangerous team in Starkville, MS. The Bulldogs were undefeated in SEC play until the SEC Tournament final. State went an astonishing 18-0 until they faced off against South Carolina in the SEC tournament final in a game that was decided by 11 points.
Mississippi State’s driving factors, Teaira McCowan and Morgan William, need to continue their dominance on the floor for State to be victorious. McCowan, a Jr. out of Texas, averaged a little over 18 points a game for the Bulldogs during the regular season. William who you may remember crushed UCONN’s 111-win streak and title hopes last season with a game-winning shot that sent the Huskies packing. These two players were crucial in State’s perfect SEC season in a conference that’s getting tougher and tougher each year.
The main key for the Bulldogs to have success is shutting down Louisville’s Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen. Durr, a Jr. out of Georgia, was named ACC women’s basketball player of the year. Hines-Allen has proven herself as a dominant, posting a regular season average of 14.7 points a game and averaging over 15 points game in the women’s tournament. This will be the third Final Four appearance for head coach Jeff Walz and the first appearance since the 2013 season.
Fortunately for Mississippi State, they don’t have to worry about seeing the Gamecocks again this year. South Carolina was defeated in the Elite Eight by UCONN by the surprising score of 94-65. However, they may have to face off against the Huskies again if they prove to be victorious against Notre Dame. But this shouldn’t be a problem for the Bulldogs, right? They upset them in the Final Four last season after State’s Morgan William hit a dagger at the buzzer that ended the Huskies season, so the Bulldogs can beat them again.
Another potential opponent in the national title game for the Bulldogs is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If State were to play the Irish, their defense would need to be flawless against Notre Dame’s dominant duo, Arike Ogunbowale, and Marina Mabrey. Ogunbowale and Mabrey are the highest-scoring combo in the tournament this year averaging 45 points a game. The Irish do show signs of weakness due to their injury-plagued roster this season. Mississippi State needs to take advantage of these injuries and come out scoring.
Mississippi State has a very good chance of winning the whole thing this year. They’re a mentally and physically tough team that has proved themselves to be dangerous. They successfully put in a plan to defeat UConn in the Final Four last season. If they continue their successful play and if McCowan and William continue to show off their dominance, it wouldn’t be very surprising to see the Bulldogs hoist up a national championship trophy.