March Madness: Washington Huskies vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

2009 March Madness First Round
No. 13 Washington Huskies -5 (25-8) 18-11 ATS, 19-11 O/U vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs +5 (22-12) 17-12 ATS, 16-13 O/U Thursday, March 19, 2009 Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon 3:00 p.m. EST. TV: CBS

By Wilson of

The champions of the SEC Conference Tournament will take on the regular season Pac-10 champions as Miss. State and the University of Washington tip off this Thursday in Portland. The Huskies of Washington come into the Rose Garden as the No. 4 seed in the West Region while the Bulldogs of Miss. State represent the 13 seed.

Miss. State enters Thursdays game averaging 75.1 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting from the field and 71 percent from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs allow 69 points to their opponents which is comparable to what the Huskies allow at 69.6. The Bulldogs have won their last five games with the most recent victory coming today against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Tournament Championship game.

This is the tenth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bulldogs. Miss. State is 11-9 in the big dance and this is their second consecutive trip to the tourney. Last year the Bulldogs beat Oregon but were knocked by No.1 seed Memphis in Little Rock. The last time the Huskies and the Bulldogs hooked up was in 1968 at the Gator Bowl Tournament in Florida as the Huskies won the game 82-80. Miss. State faced another Pac-10 team earlier this season in the Washington State Cougars. The Cougars beat the Bulldogs 63-52. Miss. State will definitely be looking to even their mark with the Pac-10 schools this season by upsetting the Huskies in what is basically a home game as the University of Washington is only an hour and half away from Portland.

The short trip down I-5 from Seattle to Portland will be a welcomed journey as the Huskies will need all the crowd support they can get. Sure the Huskies are the higher seed but we all know that doesnt mean a whole lot in the dance. The Huskies are a well balanced team but they do have a young guard running the offense.

Pac-10 freshman of the year, Isaiah Thomas, has been brilliant all season and earned the respect of the leagues coaches and players. He is averaging nearly 15 points per game and is capable of taking over a game with his speed and ability to drive to the basket. Although Thomas does tend to over-do-it at times, but he is surrounded by veteran players and perhaps one of the best big men in the country in Jon Brockman. Brockman is deceptively quick on the baseline and a beast in the middle.

The Huskies cant afford to look past anyone especially after being ousted from the Pac-10 Conference Tournament as they lost to the Arizona State Sun Devils 75-65. Washington traditionally plays well in the post season and has advanced deep in the tournament with an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen just a couple of years ago. But can they live up to their past accomplishments?

Mississippi State is slightly better from the charity stripe as they knock down 71 percent compared to the Huskies who shoot 69 percent from the line. The Bulldogs also sink twice as many shots from 3-point land, so the Huskies will need to keep a hand up on the shooters.

The Bulldogs will have their hands full as the Huskies are a seasoned team with a ton of post season experience and they will come out juiced in front of what should be a lopsided hometown-like crowd for the University of Washington.

The Huskies travel well and play well which is a recipe for a winner. I like the Huskies to take care of business this Thursday and set the table for a matchup with the winner of the Purdue vs. Northern Iowa game. Look out Purdue; you have the cursed No. 5 seed!

Wilsons Pick: Huskies win in the Rose Garden! U of W 80, Miss. State 70. Luck to ya.