MSU women and men play on same night, separated by 2,206 miles

 

Paul Bowker

Paul Bowker

 

 

Paul Bowker

 

 

The basketball teams at Mississippi State University find themselves in a unique position today. 

 

It is a spot where every NCAA Division I school hopes to be when March Madness arrives. 

 

Two teams, both in the tournament. 

 

The campus is buzzing. The talk at the restaurants and the coffee shops are all about those Dawgs. 

 

Mississippi State isn't the first to experience this. 

 

The Duke teams come to mind. The University of Connecticut. Certainly, Notre Dame and Stanford. 

 

My advice: Don't expect it every year. Cherish it this year. It is truly special. 

 

The MSU Athletics Department has already pointed out that Mississippi State is the only place in the nation to have its two basketball teams holding top five seeds in the NCAA Tournament following a fall in which its football team played in a bowl game. 

 

This is going to make a crazy Friday. 

 

What do the MSU women do? Two hours before they take the floor at Humphrey Coliseum to take on Southern University in the opening round of the women's tournament, the men will be starting their game against Liberty in San Jose, California. 

 

So what happens? 

 

Do the women watch the men's game on TV in their locker room before their own game? 

 

Not easily done. The Bulldogs have a game of their own to prepare for. 

 

And what of the men? As their game ends in San Jose, the women's game back home will be starting. There'll be a postgame visit with the coach. Then, a press conference. Then, a celebration and thoughts of Sunday's game against Virginia Tech (I'm making that call now) ... or worse, a loss and thoughts of a summer starting way too early. 

 

Somehow in the middle of all that, do they watch the women's game? Maybe follow it on Twitter? 

 

These are not easy questions. 

 

Their paths crossed Wednesday. As Mississippi State was preparing not only for two women's games in Starkville, but getting ready to host three other teams and its fans at Humphrey Coliseum, the men were heading west. 

 

They'll both practice Thursday, but separated by 2,206 miles. 

 

This is a story of a separated campus, divided by hoops. 

 

If they both win Friday, OK, I should say when they both win Friday, the campus will go crazy. Two teams, two wins, two hearts. And then we move on to Sunday, where, again separated by 2,206 miles, the men's and women's team play for Sweet 16 spots. 

 

How sweet would that be? 

 

And then, in this awkward twist of fate created by the NCAA selection committees who decide such things, the men and women of Mississippi State may pass by each other at 38,000 feet somewhere above Topeka, Kansas, I suppose. 

 

The women were placed in the Portland Regional, meaning they'll be headed for Oregon while the men transfer from the west coast to the east coast, heading for their regional tournament in Washington, D.C. 

 

I say this for dramatics. In reality, the men will head home after their game Sunday, go to class for a couple of days, and then head out. The women will already be home, but not for long. 

 

Monday could be an interesting day on campus. Men's players congratulating the Bulldog women, and the women doing the same for the men. 

 

Let's get ready for this wild ride. 

 

Paul Bowker is sports editor of the Dispatch. You can reach him at [email protected]

 

 

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