Who: No. 8 South Carolina (25-6, 12-4 SEC) vs. No. 2 Mississippi State (32-0, 16-0 SEC)
What: SEC tournament championship game
When: 4:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, March 4
Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Listen: 107.5 The Game in Columbia, South Carolina
Last Meeting: The Bulldogs pulled away with a powerful fourth quarter to down the Gamecocks 67-53 in Starkville, Mississippi, avenging their loss in the 2017 national championship.
Last Time Out: South Carolina took down No. 19 Georgia, 71-49, on Saturday night, as three USC players scored in double figures and the Lady Bulldogs never led after the first quarter. Mississippi State trailed after the first 10 minutes to Texas A&M, but took control in the second quarter and ended up cruising the rest of the way to a 70-55 win over the No. 15 Aggies.
Key Storyline: This will be the third consecutive SEC title game to feature South Carolina and Mississippi State, but for the first time, the Bulldogs will be the clear favorites as the top seed with a perfect record to protect.
Both squads didn’t seem to have too much trouble in the semifinals, sweeping past ranked opponents with relative ease after slow starts, so it’s hard to give one team an edge in momentum. On one hand, MSU has been flawless all year and is starting to seem like the only program capable of taking down No. 1 UConn. On the other, USC has far less pressure and nowhere to go but up with an upset victory.
The key to the matchup will be whether or not South Carolina gives star A’ja Wilson any help, as it has managed to do in the first two games of this tournament. In the Gamecocks’ first matchup with the Bulldogs, Wilson had a solid 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting, but her team crumbled in the fourth as no other offensive weapons stepped up and Mississippi State sucked up rebounds and finally contained the tired Wilson.
Coming into its third game in three days, Dawn Staley’s undermanned nine-player rotation will have to get contributions from just about everyone, and those contributions will have to be spread out throughout a full 40 minutes with few to no lapses.