USC bubble watch: Mississippi State’s loss to Vanderbilt is another boost

There are so many bubble dramas to keep track of right now in college basketball. We published a bubble guide for you to consult throughout the weekend preceding the conference tournaments.

One of the really big and central bubble teams in action on Saturday was Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were generally viewed as one of the “last four in” by most bracketologists. That’s not a unanimous view, but it was a majority view. MSU was very close to the cut line, one way or the other. A win at Vanderbilt would have done for the Bulldogs what USC’s win over Arizona State achieved for the Trojans: It would have moved Mississippi State close to lock status, and put the Bulldogs in a position where it would have been harder for them to play their way out of the field.

A loss would have made their road noticeably tougher, but wouldn’t have represented a crushing, final blow. Still, the difference between winning and losing was — and is — significant.

The result for Mississippi State? The Bulldogs did lose at Vanderbilt.

It’s not a terrible loss, but it’s a loss to a team lower on the seed list. It does move MSU downward on the seed list. Meanwhile, USC keeps rising on the seed list with five wins in its last six games, the only loss being to Arizona, a team likely to be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

When you look at bracketology posts the next 48 to 72 hours, you will likely see Mississippi State right near the cut line — maybe the very last team in the field or maybe the first team out of the field. MSU is that close.

What is MSU’s bubble outlook now?

The Bulldogs face Florida in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. MSU won’t move up the seed list by winning. That game is important for the purpose of avoiding a bad loss. MSU then would play in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday against top-seeded Alabama, the regular-season SEC champion.

A win over Bama, and Mississippi State is clearly in the NCAA Tournament.

A loss would create a very long wait for MSU on Selection Sunday, March 12. Bottom line: MSU will have to beat Alabama, and USC would have to lose its Pac-12 quarterfinal, for the Bulldogs to have any chance of finishing ahead of the Trojans on the seed list heading into Selection Sunday.

The Trojans have to like their odds of finishing ahead of Mississippi State. Alabama just has to beat the Bulldogs to help USC in this specific bubble comparison.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire