Saturday College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Mississippi State vs. Tennessee, Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

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Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Reggie Perry (1).

What’s the best way to get prepared for Super Bowl Sunday? Watch some great college basketball battles in the SEC and Big Ten on Saturday.

First, we travel to Madison, WI, to decide if the Big Ten leading Spartans can grab a tough road win over the short-handed Badgers. Next, we head to Starkville, MS to see if Mississippi State can extend its conference win streak against Tennessee.

Let’s examine the matchups.


Odds as of Saturday morning and via BetMGM, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks

Michigan State at Wisconsin

  • Spread: Michigan State -4.5
  • Over/Under: 130.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX

No. 14 Michigan State (16-5) is tied atop the Big 10 standings with Illinois at 8-2, holding a 76-56 head-to-head victory with the Illini. The Spartans are 11-10 against the spread, but have covered eight of their past 10 games.

Wisconsin (12-9) is sitting at 5-5 in conference play and has lost three of their past four games. They will also play this game without junior guard Brad Davison (8.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who is suspended and sophomore guard Kobe King (10.1 ppg), who has officially left the team. The Badgers are just 8-11-2 ATS and have only covered the spread once in their past seven games.

The loss of those two players represents a significant blow to Wisconsin. King was the team’s second-leading scorer and Davison averaged the second-most minutes per game. The Badgers have lost three of their last four conference games and will need to adjust quickly against the perfect statistical balance of Michigan State.

The Spartans rank 13th overall in adjusted offensive efficiency and 17th best in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.  In conference play, they have been even better. Michigan State ranks first in the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive effective field goal percentage. The Spartans are also the conference’s best at defending 3-pointers (24.3%) and shoot an efficient 77.2% from the free-throw line.

Wisconsin will need to produce a highly-efficient offensive game, as the rebounding discrepancy with the Spartans will lead to few second-chance opportunities. The Badgers rank 268th in offensive rebounding percentage, while Michigan State ranks fourth-best in the country with an average of 42 rebounds per game.

This is a bad time for the Badgers to host a Michigan State team that has won two consecutive Big Ten games by an average of 23.5 points. I took this line early and expect it to be at five or higher as game time approaches today.

I would take the Spartans up to that five-point line.

THE PICK:  Michigan State -4

Tennessee at Mississippi State

  • Spread: Mississippi State -6.5
  • Over/Under: 128.5
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

Mississippi State (13-7) is playing its best basketball of the season. The Bulldogs have won four consecutive conference games after starting SEC play 0-3. They are 12-7-1 against the spread including six consecutive covers.

Mississippi State has found its offensive groove, having scored 72 points or more in four of its last five games. Sophomore forward Reggie Perry has averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, and shot 87.1% (27-of-31) from the free-throw line during that time.

Meanwhile, Tennessee (12-8) has struggled since losing senior point guard Lamonte Turner to season-ending shoulder surgery in December. The Volunteers are 4-5 during that span, losing two of their past three SEC road games. Tennessee is just 9-11 ATS, but has covered three of its five true road games.

The Volunteers’ offense has self-destructed in conference play without Turner. They rank dead last in offensive turnover percentage, while being forced to accumulate 32.1% of their SEC points scored from 3-point range.  Tennessee will likely struggle to maintain that efficiency on the road against Mississippi State’s conference-best 3-point defense (24.5%).

While the Volunteers have maintained their usual strong defensive presence, they rank at the bottom of the conference in limiting offensive rebounding, which is a disaster against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs rank second-best in the nation on the offensive glass, and third nationally in rebounding margin.

Most importantly? The Bulldogs are shooting a superb 80.9% from the free-throw line in SEC play.

The Bulldogs have won five of their past six home games by an average of 20.6 points. Tennessee’s offensive struggles combined with Mississippi State’s dominant rebounding advantage should lead to a comfortable home win and the Bulldogs’ fifth consecutive SEC win.

THE PICK:  Mississippi State -6.5

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