Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick
Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-9 SU, 17-15 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (27-4 SU, 15-14-1 ATS)
When: Friday, March 15, 2019 – 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: SEC Network
By: Matt Lowry, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: Tenn -5.5 (Bovada)
Last Time Out: Mississippi State blew out Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC tournament; Tennessee lost to Auburn 84-80 in their regular season finale.
Scouting the Bulldogs:
The Bulldogs have had a fantastic season and are basically a lock for the tournament. Joe Lunardi has them projected to be a 6-seed, but if they could take down the Vols, they would surely have a case to improve this number. The Bulldogs were nearly perfect in the second-round matchup against the Aggies, dominating them from the opening tip. Now looking forward to the quarterfinals, they will need an even better performance to take down one of the top teams in the country.
Scouting the Volunteers:
The Volunteers made their intentions known during the regular season when they dominated the SEC up until the last game where they lost a share of the regular season title. They have now had almost exactly a week to prepare for their opening round game in the quarterfinals. This could most certainly be a trap game as Mississippi State has already played one game, so the first ten minutes or so could really set the tone in how this one will turn out.
Head to Head:
Tennessee destroyed Mississippi State in their only meeting this year, winning 71-54 in Knoxville. They have now won the last 3 games in a row against the Bulldogs, 4 out of the last 5 and 8 out of the last 10. It is safe to say the Vols have utterly dominated this team and will be poised to do so again, with their eyes on the SEC tournament trophy.
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Notable Betting Trends:
Over the same 10 games where Tennessee has dominated straight up, they also have a slight edge in terms of covering the spread. Tennessee is 6-4 against the spread in this stretch and the under has gone 7-3, including 4-0 in the last 4 meetings during this time. Seeing that the Vols are one of the highest scoring teams in the country, trends show that they are 25-3 when scoring more than 70 points and 13-0 when scoring more than 85 points. Mississippi State is 16-0 when allowing less than 70 points, but they are 7-9 when allowing more than 70 points.
Quinndary Witherspoon has one of his best performances of the season. It is well known that Witherspoon is the backbone of this Bulldogs team. He has even proved it by leading them in points scored at 18.3 per game. Witherspoon was held to just 12 points in the game against the Aggies. He did shoot 5 of 6 in this game, but really did not need to carry if you consider the margin of victory. However, against Tennessee, it will be a completely different story and Witherspoon is going to have to step up.
Mississippi State will Cover if:
They can slow down Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Just about 10 days ago, these guys scored a combined 32 points against the Bulldogs. Williams shot 4 of 8 and Schofield shot 7 of 13. The Bulldogs defense is going to need to change their scheme completely and find a way to force the ball into the hands of the other Tennessee players. Especially Grant Williams, who is averaging 19.3 points per game. If he gets hot, the Bulldogs chances of moving on to the semifinals will fade away.
Tennessee will Cover if:
They do a better job of knocking down their threes, as well as, defending the three-point line. Coming in they only shoot 35.2% from deep range, which ranks 139th in the NCAA. On the defensive side, they allow 33.3%, which sounds like a good number, but it ranks them at 120th. Mississippi State is a top 35 team when it comes to shooting the three, so if the Vols want to eliminate any chance for the Bulldogs to hang around in this game, they will need to run their shooters off the line.
Matt’s Pick for Mississippi State vs. Tennessee:
Lines for this game have released late and at the time of publish most of my bitcoin sites have Tenn only giving up 5.5. Even though Tennessee has yet to play a game in over a week, they will be hungry to get back on the court. The loss to Auburn in the regular season finale costed them a share of the SEC regular season title and potentially a one seed, so they will want to get back out there to prove they are a top 4 team in the nation. Behind the multiple scoring options that the Volunteers have, they will pull away late and manage to cover.
Matt’s College Basketball Pick: Tennessee Volunteers
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