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Mississippi State Bulldogs
Throughout its history, Mississippi State has been a competitive force in men's basketball. The Bulldogs have accumulated 10 conference regular season championships, four conference tournament championships, seven divisional championships, and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three trips to the Sweet Sixteen and a Final Four appearance in 1996. Mississippi State has also made seven appearances in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
In 1963, the team made history by defying an order from then-Governor of Mississippi Ross Barnett not to play in the NCAA tournament, because the team they faced, Loyola University of Chicago, had African-Americans on its squad (four of them were starters). (The Jackson Daily News also tried to intimidate the Bulldogs against playing the Ramblers by prominently featuring pictures of the four black players on the front page of the paper.) Coach Babe McCarthy sneaked the team out of Starkville to travel to East Lansing, Michigan, to face Loyola University Chicago, only to lose to the Ramblers, who went on to win the title that year. This was one of the first times that an all-white Southern school faced a team with black members, and it is considered to be a watershed moment in the Civil Rights era. Boston Celtics great Bailey Howell played at Mississippi State and is the only MSU player to be in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 1995–96 team reached a pinnacle in MSU's basketball history, winning a second-straight SEC Western Division title, claiming a first-ever SEC Tournament Championship over top-ranked and eventual national champion Kentucky, and gaining a berth in the NCAA's national championship Final Four. That team earned its national championship ticket with impressive regional wins over No. 1 seed Connecticut and No. 2 seed Cincinnati. State's 26 wins that season were the most in school history at the time. Mississippi State's Humphrey Coliseum ("the Hump") is the largest on-campus basketball arena in the state of Mississippi. Opened in 1975, Humphrey Coliseum remains one of the premier basketball venues in the Southeastern Conference, with a seating capacity of 10,500.