24. Mississippi State (8-0)
Not all unbeaten teams are created equal. There are still more than a dozen teams without a loss four weeks into the season, but Mississippi State is one of those teams whose early run really stands out. New head coach Chris Jans is off to a hot start in Starksville, even if his Bulldogs haven’t exactly played the toughest schedule in the world. Regardless, they have recently picked up nice wins over Marquette and Utah, two teams that blasted Top 10 teams within the last five days.
This week began on Monday for the Bulldogs, who secured a 74-54 win over Omaha. A balanced offensive attack was led by Tolu Smith (12 points, 8 rebounds) and D. J. Jeffries (10 points), two of the usual suspects for Mississippi State. They’d get their eighth win of the season on Saturday, dropping Mississippi Valley State in an 82-52 outcome. Smith had 24 points and 6 rebounds this time, while the Bulldogs shot just over 47% in the win.
They may not be the most impressive team in the world, but any 8-0 start is going to start turning some heads. What makes these Bulldogs special is their defense; they have not allowed more than 55 points in any of their first 8 games. There are times when the offense breaks out, but it’s more than likely going to be the Bulldogs’ defense that keeps them in a tough SEC race in a few weeks. Next Sunday they’ll head to Minnesota for their first true road game of the season; perhaps it’s a chance to see how real this team can be.