I’ll bite the bullet and make this game thread to avoid the various game-thread-related jinxes we’ve developed this season.
Some of my thoughts heading into the NIT first round matchup to get a discussion started:
- Mississippi State isn’t a bad team, but they had a hard time in a strong SEC this season, especially on the road. Finished 8-10 in conference, below .500, but are still ranked 45th on KenPom (for reference, we’re currently 84th).
- Their best player is definitely shooting guard Iverson Molinar, who finished the year averaging 17.6 points per game (third in the SEC) and 3.6 assists per game. Molinar is really quick off the dribble and good at creating his own shot inside the arc – he shoots a team-high 43.1% on midrange jumpers, despite being assisted on just 21% of his midrange attempts. His weakness is lack of a reliable three: Molinar is just 27-106 from three this season (25.5%) and hasn’t hit a single unassisted triple. Reece matches up VERY well with him, in my opinion.
- Beyond Molinar, a few other players to watch on Mississippi State: big man Tolu Smith, who’s a good finisher around the basket but can’t create much for himself; fifth-year forward Garrison Brooks (UNC transfer) who’s settled into a nice secondary role; Memphis transfer D.J. Jeffries who’s had to accept a reduced role and is having the worst season of his career in both volume & efficiency as a junior; facilitating guard Shakeel Moore, a N.C. State transfer who’s been the team’s most dangerous three-point shooter; and sixth man Rocket Watts, a Michigan State transfer who doesn’t play much but has a pretty cool name.
- Mississippi State’s biggest weakness is their three-point shooting, which makes 2021-22 Virginia look like 2018-19 Virginia in comparison. They rank 347th in the country in three point rate and 344th in three point percentage. Only one player (Shakeel Moore) averages more than one made three per game for the Bulldogs. Frankly, on paper, we match up pretty well with them — that’s probably why they’re a 3-seed in the NIT.
- While it would be cool to make some semblance of a tournament run, it would be equally cool to get our young guys meaningful minutes in a high(ish) pressure environment. Given how Tony Bennett treated our last NIT appearance, I wouldn’t expect him to totally bench our veterans, but I do think we see some of the typical bench guys (the Ms) get some increased run — maybe 10-15 minutes per game. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, though. This point has been beaten to death, so I won’t belabor it any more, but it would be really encouraging to get a good showing from at least one of the Ms in the NIT that could ideally become a building block for future development.
I just wanna win a few more games. Sometimes, teams like UVA just fold the tent because there’s nothing to prove in the NIT (we weren’t snubbed from the NCAA, we aren’t a young team announcing we’ll be there next year). I worry about motivation. The 2020 team had that chip, something to prove, and played D like every possession was the difference between life and death for a loved one. This team - well I’m not sure that they haven’t already moved on. I guess we’ll see tomorrow because Miss State is a team we ought to roll.
Agreed we should roll. An abysmal three point shooting team whose best player is a great matchup for Reece? Sign me up. Body language early will be a good indicator of whether we’re determined to make some noise or fold early in the tournament.
Motivation is an obvious wildcard in the NIT. There are rumors that Howland is out after they lose (or win it all, I guess). Does that motivate or de-motivate Miss St? Does Kihei get hyped for one last (maybe) JPJ game? Or does it feel like a let down? We shall see…
I think they will motivated. Jayden has never played in a end of the year tourney so I think he will have something to prove as well. Hopefully we see more PT through the line up. Watch uva decide to get hot from 3 during the NIT
The NIT is a disappointing outcome for this program. But if a player can’t get hyped up a post season game of any kind then there’s a much bigger problem than players not hitting shots.
Like a conference tournament with an NCAA bid on the line?
There are hype levels. Just human nature. Staying at Final 4 levels of hype for all games wouldn’t be healthy! I’m big on the Randy Moss philosophy of taking plays off. (In some ways, I’m following it at this very moment…)
I dont think the teams lack of hype is what caused their downfall in New York, it was a lack of talent.
Odds that Taine and Igor see playing time tonight?
How do people feel about this one? I think it’s Virginia -2.5, but on paper I think we should do well. That seems like a tight number for a home game. I guess it depends on which team shows up, the one that can shoot or the one that can’t. I probably shouldn’t gamble on UVA games but I am headed to Vegas today for my annual first four days in the tournament and I have to gamble on something.
I can take UVa -2.5 for a 6 pack!
Feel?? They are super athletic and aggressive - 5 guys averaging over a steal per game.
6 guys averaging over a 12% rebound %.
They turn it over some when pressured but we are really bad in forcing turnovers…
They play 10 guys in most games. 6-10, 6-10, 6-9, 6-9, 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
I kind of feel like this year’s UVA team is more “the one that can’t shoot” or “the one that couldn’t throw a rock into the ocean from a raft in the middle of the Pacific”.
Although, to be fair, that’s really only if we’re taking three-point shooting into account. We’ve had some solid enough shooting games from inside the arc.
Also - if you want to bet something - bet against UVA covering the first half spread. They have never covered a first half spread in the 1st round in the NCAA’s under CTB. Not sure if they covered in 2013 NIT.
Even against Hampton in 2016 when we won first half 40-21?
That may be the one exception - I was at that game … that was really really fun… I guess I wasn’t counting MEAC games as counting??
Not a good look slandering the MEAC.