College Basketball Odds, Picks for Drake vs. Mississippi State (Tuesday, Dec. 20)
Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Jans and Shakeel Moore.
- Mississippi State faces off against a tough mid-major opponent in Drake on Tuesday.
- Can the Bulldogs continue their success in non-conference?
- Brett Pund dives in as he previews the matchup and offers up a best bet.
Drake vs. Mississippi State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Mississippi State Odds|
-110o / -110u
In the final week of non-conference games for most teams, No. 15 Mississippi State and Drake meet in the Battle in the Vault at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday night.
The Southeastern Conference squad is one of just five undefeated teams in the nation, boasting an 11-0 record and one of the best defenses in the country.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Valley school enters as a Top 100 team according to Kenpom, looking for its first Quad 1 win of the season.
This would be a great resume-booster for both, and I expect this to be one of the underrated matchups on Tuesday’s card.
Since coach Darian DeVries was hired, Drake has been a mainstay in postseason play, consistently winning 20+ games in each of his four campaigns in charge.
The Bulldogs are off to an 8-3 start to this season. However, they have played a very soft schedule through the opening 11 games.
In the only two contests against Top 100 teams in Kenpom rankings, Drake lost both against Richmond and Saint Louis, the last pair of games the DeVries’ program played.
Offensively, Drake excels in turnover percentage and free throw shooting, ranking in the Top 40 in the country according to barttorvik.com. They also do a great job at defending the 3-point line, coming in at 66th in opponent 3-point percentage.
Sophomore guard Tucker DeVries leads the team with 18.8 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds per game. The coach’s son has hit double-figures in every game but one this season.
When Chris Jans made the switch from New Mexico State over the summer, I doubt he was expecting to be 11 games into his start in Starkville without a loss, but he has Mississippi State playing some of the best defense in the nation.
The numbers also back up what you are seeing on the court. Through the opening 11 contests, MSU’s defense ranks seventh in adjusted efficiency, eighth in effective field goal percentage and opponents’ 2-point percentage and 15th in turnover percentage.
Even with the amount of pressure being applied defensively, Jans’ team also does a great job of not fouling, entering in 10th in opponent free throw rate.
The big question is whether this is due to improvement under Jans or because of the very soft schedule in his first year. MSU has the 336th ranked strength of schedule, according to Kenpom.
Senior center Tolu Smith is one of the best in the SEC, averaging 16.2 PPG and 8.9 RPG. If Jans can find a consistent scorer on the perimeter, he may be looking at an NCAA Tournament trip in his debut campaign.
Drake vs. Mississippi State Betting Pick
When I look at how this game is going to play out, I have a hard time seeing Drake consistently running great offense, but I also don’t trust this Mississippi State team to score many points either.
So my best bet is for this contest to fall under the total of 130 points, which I would play it down to 126.
MSU is outside the Top 150 in multiple offensive categories, including AdjO (182nd), EFG% (230th) and 3-point percentage (308th). In the five games that have been away from home, Jans’ squad is only averaging 64.2 points per game and has only topped 70 points once.
Meanwhile, this same bet would have cashed in nine of 11 contests, including all five on the road or on neutral courts.
As for Drake, Richmond is their only opponent that is comparable to the level of defense (51st AdjD) and slow tempo (297th in AdjT) that MSU has. The MVC school only produced 52 points in the loss, which is not good going up against an SEC team that hasn’t let anyone score 70 against them this season.
I also don’t hate a look at Drake’s Team Total going under 61 or better, but I’ll stick with the full game total as my best bet in a slugfest.