Saturday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Michigan State-Florida, Mississippi State-Clemson
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: KeVaughn Allen (5), Joshua Langford (1).
Although Army-Navy provides college football junkies with one last taste before bowl season kicks off next weekend, the college basketball docket is loaded Saturday, including 15 of the top 25-ranked teams taking the court.
A pair of them are included in this breakdown, with No. 10 Michigan State traveling to Florida while No. 22 Mississippi State battles Clemson in the Never Forget Tribute Classic (Newark, N.J.), aiding children of the victims in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Which sides deliver more betting value? Let’s dive in.
>> All odds as of Friday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.
Michigan State Spartans at Florida Gators
- Spread: Michigan State -2
- Over/under: 141.5
- Tip: Noon ET
- TV channel: CBS
Stuckey described the Gators’ 66-56 win over West Virginia on Tuesday about as well as one could, “Let’s never speak of that game again.” Florida (4-4 against the spread) amassed just 0.87 points per possession in a defensive war, unaided by its 28.2% 3-point shooting.
Mike White’s unit will be in for a tall task against the Spartans (6-3 ATS), as they’re yielding the 10th-lowest opponents’ Effective Field Goal percentage (42.5%) in college basketball.
Michigan State’s sound defense doesn’t stem from it’s ball pressure, forcing a 15.2 Turnover Rate (23rd-lowest in Division I), but the presence of Nick Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman up front generate the sixth-lowest opponents’ two-point percentage (40.1%). Considering the Gators have amassed a 35.3 3-point percentage overall, too, they’ll struggle to create offense.
To make matters worse, Spartans wing Matt McQuaid, who’s one of the better defenders in the country, is a game-time decision after missing the past three contests with a thigh injury.
Offensively, MSU forward Nick Ward (15.9 points per game) has evolved into a top-tier presence on the block, and Florida doesn’t present a dominant low-post defender who can to slow him down.
Look for the 6-foot-8, 245-pound mammoth to continue to help initiate the Spartans’ offense via his 30.9 Possession Percentage — the 48th-highest in DI.
The Spartans are 41-28-2 (59.4%) ATS as a favorite over the past three regular seasons. That percentage will rise following Saturday’s affair.
THE PICKS: Michigan State -2; Over 141.5
Clemson Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Spread: Mississippi State -3
- Over/under: 137
- Tip: 4 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
Despite the Tigers (1-7 ATS) producing the 45th-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (110.5 Points Per 100 Possessions), Clemson’s leading scorer Marcquise Reed (19.4 PPG) will likely miss the contest after spraining his knee in a 65-60 win over Saint Peter’s on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-3 Reed possesses one of the lone respectable jumpers on the team, forcing Brad Brownell’s unit to find its offense inside.
The Bulldogs (3-5 ATS) have limited opponents to the 45th-lowest two-point percentage (45.5%) in the nation. Their major size advantage in the paint, led by the 6-foot-11 Abdul Ado and 6-foot-10 Aric Holman (6.2% and 8.6% block percentages) should fluster Tigers forward Elijah Thomas (11.7 PPG) throughout.
Overall, Mississippi State has manufactured the 23rd-lowest Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (93.6 opponents’ Points Per 100 Possessions) in the country, holding opponents to under 70 points in six of its eight games.
Ben Howland’s group should cash in down low at the other end, too, with Lamar Peters (36.3 Assist Rate) taking advantage of the Tigers’ average perimeter defense by attacking the lane.
The Bulldogs are 21-16 (58.3%) ATS as at least a 3-point favorite in Howland’s three seasons with the program. Each team has also hit the under in five of its past seven games. Both trends will continue in this matchup.
THE PICK: Mississippi State -3; Under 137