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Mississippi State, UConn set up for a basketball rematch

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Women’s basketball national powers Mississippi State and Connecticut will likely play each other in November’s Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge tournament in Connecticut, in their first meeting since the 2017 Final Four.

The Huskies are scheduled to take on in-state rival Quinnipiac in the tournament’s first round while the Bulldogs open against Maine. The winners will face off the next day in the championship game and the losers will meet in a third-place game. Barring a major early-season upset, that would put the Bulldogs and Huskies on a path to play for the tournament title.

The tournament is hosted by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and held at the Mohegan Sun Arena, about 30 miles from UConn’s campus in Storrs, Connecticut. It will be played Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 28 and 29.

Mississippi State and UConn have not met since the 2017 national semifinals in which the Bulldogs won 66-64 in overtime to snap the Huskies’ record 111-game win streak.

In ESPN’s way-too-early Top 25 for the 2020-21 season, Mississippi State checked in at No. 3, and UConn was No. 4. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll when the 2019-20 season was canceled in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mississippi State owns a 4-1 combined record all time against the field. The Bulldogs are a perfect 3-0 against Maine, after winning both games in a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017.

Mississippi State and Quinnipiac have never met on the hardwood.

A potential meeting between Mississippi State and UConn would be their third overall and first in the regular season. Connecticut crushed the Bulldogs 98-38 in the third round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, a year before being upset by them in the Final Four.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge,” said Mississippi State coach Nikki McCray-Penson, who was hired in April when Vic Schaefer was hired by Texas. “I was a part of this event when I was at South Carolina, and I’m excited for the opportunity to be around basketball greatness and see that again.”