May 16, 2013

A lot on the line for MSU this weekend

Mississippi State's season will definitely extend beyond this weekend and the SEC Tournament.

But the 16th-ranked Bulldogs still have a lot riding on their upcoming series with South Carolina to end the regular season. MSU has a chance to move into the fourth seed and receive an opening round bye in next week's trip to Hoover and also better its chances of hosting an NCAA Regional at Dudy Noble Field.

"This is what you want," said MSU head coach John Cohen. "You want to go into weekends like this at the end of the year where everything matters. You want to be totally in the thick of it. Almost every goal that we have had to start the year, with the exception of winning the Southeastern Conference, is still in front of us."

Not much separates the Diamond Dogs and No. 12 South Carolina this season. Both teams have won 38 games overall with State having one more loss (15) than the Gamecocks, who have appeared in three straight national championship games - winning two.

South Carolina however sits third overall in the SEC standings at 16-10 while the Bulldogs are tied for fifth with Ole Miss at 14-13 heading into the final three games.

"There's a ton of similarities," Cohen said. " It's two very evenly matched clubs. They're just a really good club. They can really defend it. Their arms, even though maybe their numbers aren't as strong as what they've had in the past, they've gotten on a roll. If you look at their last two or three starts, the guys that are starting against us - (Nolan) Belcher and the other kid (Jordan Montgomery) - they're pretty impressive. You know they're capable of beating anybody in the country."

Mississippi State's conference schedule has been the toughest to navigate through than any other school in the league. The Diamond Dogs did not have the three weakest teams - Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia - on its schedule this spring.

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