Louisville Cardinals (3-1) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-0)
Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship
Game time: 9:30 PM (approximately)
Venue: Baha Mar Convention Center: Nassau, Bahamas
Television: CBS Sports Network
announcers: Kevin Fitzgerald (play-by-play), Debbie Antonelli (analyst) and Sam Hyman (reporter)
Civil servants: Not yet known
Series: Louisville leads, 3-2
Last meeting: Mississippi State won 79-56 in the NIT Quarterfinals on March 20, 2018 at the KFC Yum Center
Probable starting positions:
Mississippi state season so far:
About the State of Mississippi:
There is no doubt that Mississippi State will be the most talented team Louisville has faced this young season. While the cards haven’t been up against the Bulldogs since the 2018 NIT, U of L fans should still be familiar with some of the names they’ll see on Thanksgiving night from the MSU jerseys.
Transfer of North Carolina Garrison Brooks – who had significant success against Louisville during his UNC career – is the team’s leading rebounder (7.3) and third leading scorer (11.5). Memphis Transfer DJ Jeffries averages 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Also transfer of the state of Michigan Rocket Watt — a player that U of L is said to be in the mix — was recently cleared to return to action after an off-season hip surgery, and he played sparingly in MSU’s last two games.
Despite all the new faces, this Mississippi State team’s engine remains junior guard Iverson Molinar, the SEC’s second leading scorer last season. Molinar is a wiry 6’3 guard who is at his best tearing down defenders from the dribble. He has been a solid three-pointer throughout his college career, but has only been 4-for-15 from deep so far this season. Molinar, who is also a great defender, is especially adept at hitting the bounce’s pull-up jumper, a shot he seems to be able to get easily. Think Cole Anthony from the poor man here.
MSU’s second top scorer is Shake Moore, a 6’1 security guard who played a role at NC State last year but appears to be in the midst of a breakthrough season as a sophomore. Moore is especially dangerous when it comes to turning defense into offense. He has made at least two steals in every game this season and five in Mississippi State’s most recent appearance, a 20-point win over Morehead State.
This game is especially dangerous for Louisville when you consider that the Cardinals have struggled so far this season to both defend the three and own the defensive glass. As a team, the state of Mississippi shoots the three with a clip of 45.7 percent, the third-best mark of any team in the country. The Bulldogs also bounce back 37.7 percent of their missed shots, placing them at number 24 in the country with an offensive rebound percentage.
Perhaps the biggest cause for optimism here if you’re a Louisville fan is the fact that MSU will undergo its first legitimate test on Thursday night. The average Ken Pom ranking of Mississippi’s top four opponents is a low 216.
-Louisville aims for his 31st regular season tournament championship when the cards play in the Bahamas Championship. Louisville claimed its 30th regular-season tournament championship, winning the 2019 Global Sports Shootout title by winning the five-team round-robin event, beating Akron 82-76 in the final game.
—Louisville and Mississippi State have one common opponent this season in Detroit Mercy. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 73-67, while the Bulldogs had slightly less trouble with a 77-64 win.
—This will be the third all-time tournament at the start of the season in Louisville, Bahamas. The Cardinals have come second in Battle 4 Atlantis twice.
—Fredrick King, a class of 2022 U of L signer, is from the Bahamas.
—According to DraftKings SportsbookLouisville is a 2-point underdog in this game. It is the first time this season that the Cardinals have played as an underdog.
-Mississippi State has kept opposing teams at 52 points per game this year, the sixth lowest of all Division I teams.
Mississippi State leads the SEC in offensive field goal percentage (52.0) and three-point field goal percentage (45.7) in its first four games. The Bulldogs are also among the SEC’s top three in Field Goal Percentage Defense (34.2 – 2nd), Scoring Defense (52.0 – 2nd), Scoring Margin (+24.0 – 2nd), Rebounding Defense (27.3 – 2nd) and rebounding margin (+13.3 – 3rd).
—Louisville is 4-4 all-time in games played on November 25.
—Louisville has a record of 86-74 against current SEC members.
This will be the fifth game of a six-game suspension for Louisville head coach Chris Mack. Assistant coach Mike Pegues coaches the Cardinals in Mack’s absence. The total win/loss from these six games goes to his coaching record, not Mack’s.
-Mississippi State will be looking for its first early season tournament title since 2011.
—Louisville has been at 30-2 for the past three seasons as he scored at least 71 points, but one of those losses came against Furman earlier this season.
—Since 2004, Louisville has been at 127-0 with a more than 10-point lead at halftime.
—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games with an opponent under 50 points.
—Louisville has won 155 consecutive games with a minimum of 85 points in the regulations.
—Louisville is one of only five schools to have ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once in each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, and North Carolina).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Mississippi State 67, Louisville 66