Mississippi State faces top seed St. Louis in NIT opener

Many teams declined invitations to this year’s National Invitational Tournament.

Not the state of Mississippi.

The Bulldogs (15-14), whose roster includes 13 underclassmen and only two seniors, took the opportunity to add at least one more game to their schedule. Mississippi State, a number 4, will face the number 1 Saint Louis (14-6) in a first-round NIT game on Saturday in Frisco, Tex.

The winner will play Richmond (14-8) with the number 2 in the second round on Thursday.

Mississippi state coach Ben Howland hopes this experience could be a stepping stone to bigger things, as it was for the Bulldogs last time they were in the NIT at the end of the 2017/18 season. Mississippi State reached the NIT semifinals and then made the NCAA tournament the following season.

“I was honestly excited,” Howland said. “We are a young team. Every time you can gain experience after the season, it helps the children.”

The Bulldogs will appear in the NIT for the 10th time and will face Saint Louis for the first time since the 2014-15 season when they won 75-50. The teams meet for the third time after splitting the first two games.

Saint Louis will appear on the NIT for the 19th time and for the first time since 2004. The Billikens were knocked out of the Atlantic 10 tournament in the semifinals last week by conference champions St. Bonaventure.

Saint Louis was one of the first four teams to be excluded from the NCAA tournament field.

“If you’re still sticking to the numbers, we should have been there,” said St. Louis coach Travis Ford. “There’s no question. One of the messages the NCAA committee has sent is that it is you It doesn’t matter how hard you plan. It used to be a big deal. But there are a few teams that have attended this planned non-conference. “

Saint Louis gets most of its offensive production from striker Javonte Perkins (17 points per game) and guard Jordan Goodwin (14.5 points). Yuri Collins’ 6.2 assists per game ranked ninth among Division I players during the season.

The last game of the state of Mississippi was an 85-48 loss in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference against conference champions Alabama.

Iverson Molinar (16.6 points) leads the state of Mississippi in the ranking, while Tolu Smith (12.7 points, 8.5 rebounds) makes another offensive main contribution.

– Field level media

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