Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE
January 6, 2013. That's the date that MVSU will be able to play their first home game. Playing on the road won't bother a team like MVSU, who has actually played in the NCAA tournament more recently than LSU(2012). Ignore the record and the name, LSU will need to show up to win this game.
Life is tough in the SWAC. There's literally no way teams like Mississippi Valley State could even have a basketball program unless they go on cross-country road trips just to lose and accept the payment for the game. The conference has a 5-32 record in the NCAA tournament since 1980. The last win in the round of 64 was in 1993 when 13 seed Southern beat Georgia Tech. The SWAC hasn't had a seed better than 16 since 1999.
Mississippi Valley State was the SWAC representative last year in the NCAA tournament. They lost a heartbreaker to Western Kentucky in the play in game. Last year was actually quite similar to this year in terms of results and scheduling; the first home game wasn't until January 3rd, and they started the year 1-11 with the lone win coming against Tennessee Tech.
What this means for LSU is that the Delta Devils are as rugged a team as you will find. Playing on the road doesn't intimidate them. Playing an uptempo style might be more difficult; underdogs need to shorten the game to eliminate possessions since they will score less points on average. They will shoot a lot of threes, it's the only chance to get that elusive win over a "BCS" team. They don't have anything to lose, all they care about is the money and waiting for the SWAC season to hopefully get the automatic NCAA bid.
LSU is the superior team. The Tigers have superior talent at every position, and frankly, the only player that could give LSU any trouble is junior Davon Usher who is averaging 22 points so far in three games. The Delta Devils do have a couple of centers that are bigger than LSU, so rebounding could become a concern if Coleman and O'Bryant are unable to establish position inside. As I will continue to mention until I see LSU completely control a game; we can't afford to play lazy and expect to win because of the name on the jersey.
What to watch for: I'm very interested to see how the shooting guard battle goes. Junior Andre Stringer is coming off of a great game where he was the key factor in both breaking the press and scoring quickly to build a substantial lead before halftime. Freshman Malik Morgan, however, was the starter and seems to be much more athletic than Stringer. It's a good problem for LSU to have; both players will have a role this season and as long as both continue to play efficient as they have, both will have lots of playing time.
Gametime is set for 7:00 CT and the game will once again be on CST for local viewers or the Geaux Zone.