NCAAB Odds, Picks & Prediction for Mississippi State vs. Arkansas
Pictured: Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Cameron Matthews. (Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mississippi State vs. Arkansas Odds
|Mississippi State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Two surging teams in the SEC meet in Fayetteville on Saturday evening in what should be a physical battle for 40 minutes.
The Razorbacks started out just 1-5 in the SEC, but have since righted the ship, winning five consecutive league games to get to 6-5 in the conference. That may sound familiar for optimistic Arkansas fans who have seen their team make a run to the Elite 8 in back-to-back seasons after starting slow in league play. If the season ended today, Arkansas would likely fall on the 8/9 line.
Similarly, after dropping eight of nine, the Bulldogs have reeled off four straight victories. As a result of their recent surge, they find themselves squarely on the bubble. If the season ended today, they’d probably be on the outside looking in, but a Quad 1 victory Saturday could certainly change that equation.
So, which streak will come to an end? Let’s take a closer look at each team before I get into my take from a betting perspective.
Mississippi State has an elite defense that ranks in the top-20 nationally in the following categories:
- Adjusted Efficiency (4th)
- Effective FG% (16th)
- Turnover % (11th)
- 2P% (16th)
- Steal % (3rd)
And they do it all without fouling. Opponents can have some success on the offensive boards, but every possession is like pulling teeth against the Bulldogs.
While I have nothing but praise for the Mississippi State defense, I can’t say the same for the offense, which has ultimately held it back most of the year against elite completion.
The offense turns it over way too frequently, goes through too many major droughts and simply can’t shoot. In SEC play, Mississippi State ranks last in both 3P% and FT% at 24.5% and 57.1%, respectively. That’s absolutely dreadful.
Shakeel Moore is capable of big offensive outputs, but he remains too inconsistent on a nightly basis. The Bulldogs best offense is attacking the offensive glass. Big man Tolu Smith and company rank 19th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. However, even with all of those offensive rebounds, they still have to find a way to put the ball through the net.
Arkansas is starting to figure some things out, especially on the defensive end. The Razorbacks rank 12th defensively in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. There are no weaknesses on that side of the ball, outside of a propensity to foul at a high rate due to their physical nature and ball pressure, which completely takes away the 3 from opponents.
The problem for the Hogs comes on the other end of the floor. The offense is too inconsistent when forced to operate in the half court. The transition offense is excellent, but Arkansas is too easy to defend in the half court since it lacks outside shooting (315th in 3p%), which kills spacing.
Now, Arkansas will apparently get star freshman Nick Smith back from injury for this game. I’m not sure how much he will play, but he’s a likely lottery pick who significantly raises the ceiling for this team.
Arkansas can make another deep run, but it needs to figure out some things on offense or else it will simply run into an opponent in the tournament who will zone them to death in a half-court battle, which would not end well for a Razorbacks squad that ranks in the eighth percentile in zone offense, per Synergy.
Mississippi State vs. Arkansas Betting Pick
Both of these coaches always come prepared. With glaring deficiencies on the offensive end for each team, I expect both defenses to have the advantage. In a battle of teams that can’t shoot, expect plenty of coerced jumpers from a schematic standpoint.
I just don’t see the Arkansas offense having much success. The Hogs can’t shoot and are very rim-reliant. That spells trouble against Mississippi State’s dominant defense.
Also, while Smith’s addition is huge news for the rest of the season, it’s reasonable to expect plenty of rust. The offense could also stall initially as it works to assimilate him back into the rotation. Smith isn’t going to scorch the nets from beyond the arc, so Arkansas still has a clear weakness in that department.
The same can be said for when Mississippi State has the ball. The Bulldogs can’t shoot a lick. Arkansas knows that, so don’t expect much at the rim against a defense that can guard all over the court.
Lastly, the under certainly won’t be hurt by the fact that Mississippi State is an absolute snail. It wants to grind games down to a halt, as evidenced by a ranking of 329th in Adjusted Tempo. Arkansas wants to play faster and get out in transition, but the Bulldogs will make a concerted effort to slow this down. They also have an elite transition defense and can guard without fouling, which is huge against the Hogs, who rely heavily on both areas for points.
In a battle of two elite defenses against a pair of flawed offenses, I envision a 40-minute brawl that ends in the high 50’s/low 60s. Both offenses want to get everything at the rim — where they excel — but that’s going straight into the teeth of both defenses in this particular matchup.
Let’s just hope the officials don’t take over and that we avoid a hot shooting night from the perimeter from either team.
Pick: Under 130.5 | Play to 129
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