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Miss. State coach calls out doubters, from A’ja Wilson to Joe Biden

Mississippi State coach Sam Purcell has questioned several big names who did not pick the Bulldogs in their brackets. (Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK)

If you didn’t pick Mississippi State on your NCAA Tournament bracket, watch out. Bulldogs coach Sam Purcell may put you on his list.

The SEC program bested Big Ten opponent Illinois, 70-56, in its First Four game Wednesday. With the win, Mississippi State claimed the No. 11 seed in No. 1 South Carolina’s region, setting the Bulldogs up for a first-round matchup against No. 6 seed Creighton at 6 p.m. ET Friday on ESPNews.

After the victory, though, Purcell came with receipts of several big-name women’s college basketball fans who did not pick Mississippi State to advance in their brackets.

“We’ve got some new people that are not believing in the Bulldogs,” he said. “We’ve got Candace Parker, who did not put us in the bracket. We’ve got President Biden, who did not put us in, A’ja Wilson and Barack Obama.”

Wilson picked Illinois to win the First Four game and then upset Creighton before falling to No. 3 seed Notre Dame.

The Las Vegas Aces star won the NCAA title in 2017 with South Carolina, the No. 1 overall seed and Mississippi State’s SEC rival. She matched Purcell’s joking call-out with her own jibe at the Bulldogs’ expense, saying she would “never root for that maroon and white team.”

Like Wilson, former president Barack Obama picked Illinois to beat Mississippi State and Creighton to advance to the Round of 32. He picked South Carolina as his national champion.

President Joe Biden picked Creighton to beat the winner of the First Four game between Mississippi State and Illinois in the first round in his bracket. Biden picked No. 4 seed Villanova to win the national title game over the Gamecocks; his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, received a master’s degree from the university.