Earlier last week, Rick Ray Mississippi State released the non-conference portion of their 2013-14 schedule, and let’s just say the Bulldogs aren’t exactly challenging themselves. It’s not uncommon for power conference teams to have several cupcake teams on their schedule in order to stockpile some wins prior to entering conference play, but Mississippi State has more than just a share of these cupcakes.
In all, there are 13 games on the non-conference slate highlighted by a trip out to Las Vegas in December for the Las Vegas Classic. Mississippi State is slated to play South Florida in their first round game, followed by either UNLV or Santa Clara in the following game. These two games are at the tail-end of the non-conference with Maryland Eastern-Shore being the only game separating the Las Vegas Classic and the beginning of SEC play.
With seven of the 13 games feature teams from the SWAC (Prairie View A&M, Mississippi Valley State, and Jackson State), MEAC Florida A&M and Maryland Eastern-Shore), and Atlantic-Sun (Kennesaw State and Florida Gulf Coast — Dunk City projects to be a strong team under first year coach Joe Dooley), it’s “cupcake city” as ESPN’s Dick Vitale would call it.
Perhaps Mississippi State felt like they took their lumps at the Maui Invitation last year and is looking to downside the level of competition in this Rock Ray’s second season at the helm, especially since the Bulldogs don’t project to be particularly strong in 2013-14:
That seems to be Ray’s exact mindset: “With Santa Clara winning the CBI last season with 26 wins and adding TCU for the Big 12/SEC Challenge, it is good schedule for our young and inexperienced team. This non-conference schedule should have us prepared for our rigorous SEC docket.”
Ray does make a good point about Utah State, who is always so tough under long-time coach Stew Morrill: “Utah State has the 4th highest winning percentage in college basketball the past 11 years behind only Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga, and UNLV has made the NCAA Tournament four years in a row.”
Mississippi State opens their season up on November 8 at home against Prairie View A&M.
You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11