The NCAA regionals begin today, with Mississippi State and Ole Miss competing in the East Region in Greensboro, N.C. The host school is North Carolina A&T.
Schmidt is hoping his MSU men's squad can live up to its No. 13 national ranking, and No. 16 Ole Miss will try to do the same. But which of those teams has a better shot at scoring high and sending the most entrants to the national meet?
Well, the Bulldogs have eight athletes competing in individual events, all but one in running events, and will field two relay squads. No surprise there, as MSU has achieved its high ranking on the strength of one of the country's strongest group of sprinters.
Three MSU sprinters will compete in the 400 meters, including freshman Tavaris Tate.
The 4x100-meter relay team won at the SEC meet in 39.08 seconds. That squad is ranked fourth in the nation, while the 4x400 unit is ranked sixth.
"Our kids understand they can't sleepwalk through this," Schmidt said. "There's now a new level of urgency."
The Ole Miss men will compete in 10 events split evenly between running and field. The Rebels will be led by distance runner Martin Kirui and high jumper Ricky Robertson, both of whom won SEC titles.
Ole Miss finished tied for sixth at the SEC meet, while MSU tied for seventh.
On the women's side, Ole Miss will compete in 10 events this weekend, and MSU will compete in six.
The regional meet runs through Saturday night. The NCAA's national meet is set for June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore.