The Opponent: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Date: November 29, 2021
Time: 7:00 PM CT
Last year: 2-22 (2-13 SWAC), 357th in KenPom
Lindsey Hunter, who played 17 seasons in the NBA mostly with the Detroit Pistons, enters his third season as Mississippi Valley State’s head coach, posting a 5-49 record in his first two years. If you’re wondering how this game got scheduled, one of his teammates with the Pistons was none other than Jerry Stackhouse.
Eight players entered the transfer portal after last season, and while a lot of them aren’t worth spilling a ton of ink on, 6’7” junior Kam’Ron Cunningham (10.0 ppg/3.0 rpg) transferred to Fordham and seems like a significant loss for this team. 6’4” Treylan Smith (8.1 ppg/2.6 rpg) showed some promise as a freshman before transferring to a JUCO, and 6’6” Keiondre Jefferson (11.7 ppg/6.7 rpg), the team’s third-leading scorer, transferred to Central Baptist. When your third-leading scorer is transferring to an NAIA school, well... you might want to think about some things.
So I can’t actually access Mississippi Valley State’s roster because my computer tells me it’s not a safe website, but at least some players from last year’s team appear to be returning. That includes the team’s two leading scorers, 5’10” junior Caleb Hunter (12.3 ppg/3.4 apg) and 6’3” senior Terry Collins (12.3 ppg/5.1 rpg.) The problem, as you’d probably expect on a bad team, is that the leading scorers were extremely inefficient: Collins posted an offensive rating of 83.8 last season which was actually better than Hunter’s 79.8 rating. 6’4” sophomore Devin Gordon (9.6 ppg/3.5 rpg) was somewhat more efficient last season, largely because of a team-leading 37.5 percent from three-point range. The other returnee of note is 7’1” sophomore Leeandre Howard (3.9 ppg/4.3 rpg), who’s mostly notable for being 7’1”.
Strangely, no one from the transfer portal. Verbal Commits lists three newcomers: 6’7” Khalil Turner from the JUCO level, and 6’0” Elijah Davis and 5’11” Jay Barnes. I also found on Google a verbal commitment from Jalen Brown, a 6’3” guard out of Memphis ranked #208 in the 247 Sports composite. So, uh, he’s probably going to be the team’s best player just based on that rating.
You can tell I’m not putting a ton of effort into this. Mississippi Valley State finished 357th in KenPom last season and is ranked 358th in KenPom’s preseason ratings this year, also known as “the worst team in Division I.” Vanderbilt played Mississippi Valley State last season and won 84-41. This is a SWAC team that’s been reliably bad over the last few years: the Delta Devils haven’t even won 10 games in a season since 2012 and they’ve won three non-conference games against Division I competition since then. In other words, if this game’s even within 30 points we should probably sound some alarm bells.