Despite a distinct advantage in postseason experience, No. 1 seed Mississippi State is wary of its Sweet 16 foe.
Miss. State (32-2) faces No. 5 seed Arizona State (22-10) at 8 p.m. Friday at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
One team is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year. The other is making its first appearance in the Sweet 16 in that same time span.
But remember this — seven of 10 losses came in close games against ranked opponents. The Sun Devils have taken some of the best teams in the country to the wire.
The string of close losses includes a seven-point loss to No. 1 seed Baylor, a two-point loss to No. 1 seed Louisville, a seven-point loss to No. 2 seed Stanford, six-point and seven-point losses to No. 2 seed Oregon and a four-point loss to No. 6 seed UCLA. All five of those teams are in the Sweet 16.
Mississippi State forces 20.0 turnovers per game.
The Bulldogs forced 28 Southern turnovers in their first-round win against the Jaguars and 23 Clemson turnovers in their second-round victory over the Tigers.
Pushing Arizona State into the 20’s would be a huge feat for Schaefer’s team.
ASU’s starting center is only 6-foot-3, which obviously doesn’t match up well with MSU’s 6-foot-7 superstar Teaira McCowan.
McCowan comes into the game off a 30-point, 11-rebound performance against Clemson. She became the first SEC player to post 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game since Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap did so in 2010.