Mississippi State vs. Florida: College Basketball Odds, Picks and Preview (Wednesday, Jan. 19)

Mississippi State vs. Florida: College Basketball Odds, Picks and Preview (Wednesday, Jan. 19) article feature image

Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Iverson Molinar.

  • Mississippi State is a road underdog on Wednesday night in Gainesville.
  • Florida has struggled of late and faces a tough test in the form of the Bulldogs' difficult defense.
  • Keg taps into the matchup, delivering his breakdown and betting pick below:

Mississippi State vs. Florida Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 19
6:30 p.m. ET
SEC Network
Mississippi State Odds
-110o / -110u
Florida Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After finally notching their first SEC win of the season, the Florida Gators will look to get a streak going on Wednesday when they take on Mississippi State. After losing their first three conference games, the Gators were able to  knock off South Carolina on the road 71-63.

It's been an up-and-down season so far for Mike White's Gators, who started 6-0 with impressive wins over Florida State and Ohio State. Florida looked like a serious SEC contender until it lost to Oklahoma. Since then, nothing has gone its way.

Between the loss to Oklahoma and win over South Carolina, Florida went 3-5, including a 2-6 mark against the spread (ATS). The three wins and two covers all came against teams ranked outside KenPom's top 200. Against South Carolina, the Gators looked like the team that started 6-0, shooting a season-high 55% from the floor, including a 74% mark in the paint.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have been on fire of late, winning six of their last seven en route to a 3-1 record in the SEC. Mississippi State's most recent win was its best of the season, a two-point victory over No. 25 Alabama in Starkville.

However, this will be just the second true road game of the season for the Bulldogs, who dropped their first at Ole Miss 82-72.

This game also has some serious postseason implications for both teams. Florida and Mississippi State are firmly on the bubble. With how good the SEC is this year (10 of the 14 teams rank inside KenPom's top 100), both need every conference win they can get if they want to be playing after the conference tournament.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs offense has consistently impressed, scoring at least 66 points in every game this season. They currently rank 84th in effective field goal percentage nationally and 54th in scoring at 75.6 points per game. While the SEC's No. 3 scorer, Iverson Molinar, has been a huge factor, the Bulldogs have four other players averaging double-digit points, as well.

Molinar has combined for 52 points and 11 rebounds in the Bulldogs' last two games, both wins, and he's averaging 17.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists on the season.

One area Mississippi State has been significantly better than Florida and will be key to this game is around the basket. The Bulldogs are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, coming down with 36.9% of opportunities. They're even better after getting the rebound, ranking fifth nationally in second-chance points.

Florida has been better defensively this season,  but Mississippi State can even the playing field if it can force turnovers and limit Gators star Colin Castleton. To do that, the Bulldogs will need some serious improvement from Tolu Smith, who struggled with fouls in their last game against Alabama.

Florida has struggled with ball security, ranking outside the top 200 per KenPom in turnover percentage, block percentage and steal percentage on offense. Mississippi State will have an edge here, as it ranks 32nd in block percentage and 37th in steal percentage.

In the SEC, only Arkansas makes more free throws than Mississippi State, currently averaging 15 per game. The Bulldogs also rank 94th in the country in free throw percentage, something that could end up being a huge factor against a Gators team that has struggled at the line.

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Florida Gators

By winning at South Carolina, Florida avoided the first 0-4 start to league play since 1950. A win that was due in large part to Colin Castleton, who posted 10 points, seven rebounds and matched a career high with eight blocks. He leads the gators on the season with 15.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 swats per game.

Outside of Castleton, though, the Gators offense has struggled, posting an effective field goal percentage of only 49.6%. Only one player outside of Castleton averages double-digit points (Phlandrous Fleming Jr. at 10.9). As a team, Florida scores 72.5 points per game.

The Gators defense, however, has been one of the best in the nation and should be able to cause some havoc against the Bulldogs. Florida is limiting opposing teams to an effective FG% of just 47.6%. It also ranks inside the top 20 in both block and steal percentage.

If the Gators want to get their second SEC win of the season, they will need to get the job done at the defensive end.

Mississippi State vs. Florida Betting Pick

Florida has a chance to get back to .500 in SEC play with a pair of home games this week, but that will be easier said than done.

Mississippi State is a tough opponent, though, and home-court advantage hasn't been much help for the Gators recently. Over the last five seasons, Florida is just 21-15 at home. That could be a big factor against a Bulldogs team that has played just one true road game this season, unfortunately I don't think it will. I also don't think the Gators will be able to slow the Bulldogs down enough on offense.

And finally — the most important reason I'm backing the Bulldogs here — I think the wrong team is favored. I expected Mississippi State to be a 1-2 point favorite, maybe a pick'em at best.

Four points here with the Bulldogs seems crazy to me. I would take the Bulldogs as high as a pick'em.

Pick: Mississippi PK or better

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