College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Auburn vs. Mississippi State (Wednesday, March 2)
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Bruce Pearl (Auburn)
- Auburn travels to Mississippi State for a potential get-right game against the Bulldogs.
- The Tigers have struggled on the road this season, yet this spread seems to be overvaluing those recent trends.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down why he's backing the road team below.
Auburn vs. Mississippi State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Mississippi State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Auburn suffered yet another road defeat over the weekend at Tennessee, continuing its struggles away from home that have plagued the second half of its season.
The Tigers now have a get-right spot on the road against a desperate Mississippi State team Wednesday night.
Mississippi State isn’t really on the bubble at the moment — given its struggles down the stretch — but the Bulldogs have certainly played better at home this season than away from it. The Bulldogs have an impressive 14-2 record in front of their fans, but are just 1-8 in true road games.
All of that points toward taking the Bulldogs with the points, but the number is too deflated because of those splits for both sides. Trends become baked into the market pretty quickly when it’s as public as Auburn’s road struggles have been this season.
Mississippi State doesn’t have any clear matchup edges to exploit on this Tigers team. If anything, this is an excellent buy low on the Tigers following their dip in form recently. This is a game that Auburn should dominate the interior and get whatever it wants at the rim.
Auburn’s last three and only league losses have come to teams that play elite interior defense and are generally defensive minded.
Arkansas, Florida and most recently, Tennessee are very difficult environments to play in, and those three teams all took Auburn out of its offensive rhythm.
Between Tennessee’s elite half-court defense and Arkansas and Florida’s solid big men to limit interior scoring, Auburn found itself taking a lot of bad perimeter jumpers and missing.
The Tigers have a pretty elite interior defense thanks to Walker Kessler’s shot-blocking ability, and they’re able to both block shots and force turnovers with a high frequency.
Given that Mississippi State is a terrible jump-shooting team and relies on getting to the rim to get offense, the Bulldogs could have majors issues in the half-court trying to score.
Mississippi State plays pretty slow offensively, and that plays right into the strength of this Auburn defense that ranks fourth in defensive ShotQuality allowed in the half-court.
The Bulldogs need to get rim looks, as they rank top-90 in frequency and efficiency at the rim. But good luck scoring in the paint against Auburn, which is 11th-best at protecting the rim, per SQ, and second-best at guarding it, per Haslametrics.
Auburn has had defensive issues from the perimeter, especially with Florida and Tennessee recently finding success from deep in those defeats. But the Bulldogs don’t really have the pieces to threaten the Tigers from long range.
As poorly as the Mississippi State offense matches up with the Auburn defense because it can’t shoot, the Bulldogs’ defense may have even more issues.
Auburn’s offense tends to get bogged down when it takes too many contested jumpers, and goes haywire when the guards turn it over and take difficult 3s. The strength of the Bulldogs’ defense is not on the interior, though — it’s on the perimeter.
Mississippi State takes away 3s pretty well — it ranks top-100 in ShotQuality allowed from deep and in 3-point percentage allowed. Teams shoot a lot of 3s against the Bulldogs, but Auburn should be able to force it inside, and do so effectively.
The Bulldogs have an average interior defense that allows a high percentage on shots in and around the rim. They are also just slightly above average on the glass.
That means that Jabari Smith and Kessler will generate layups, have success in the post and get second chance opportunities here. Mississippi State is outside the top 200 in guarding the rim, per Haslametrics, and outside the top 200 in defending 2-point field goals per KenPom.
One area where the Bulldogs could find some success is on the offensive glass, but otherwise, Auburn has the edge at both ends of the floor stylistically.
Auburn vs. Mississippi State Betting Pick
The national mood on Auburn has swung from “legitimate title contenders” and clear No. 1 seed to “a team that may have peaked too early” because of a few difficult road losses.
The Tigers are still a top eight-to-10 team, and road losses to three tournament teams — with one coming in OT and another on the final possession — is hardly reason to panic.
The Tigers were just -4.5 two weeks ago against Florida on the road. Now, they’re laying just three against a Mississippi State team that doesn’t matchup nearly as well and isn’t as good as Florida.
You’re getting a better matchup for the Tigers on the interior, a better price and one that I think is a bit too cheap on them.
I’d expect an all-in effort from Auburn to finally end this recent road skid. Also, I’m expecting Kessler and Smith to get easy basket after easy basket at the rim.
Even though the home/road splits point toward the Bulldogs, now is the time to buy low on Auburn.