College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Tennessee vs. Mississippi State (Wednesday, February 9)
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: D.J. Jeffries (Miss St.)
- After losing one of their top scorers and rebounders, Tennessee goes on the road to face off against Mississippi State.
- The Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games coming into this one against the Vols.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Tennessee vs. Mississippi State Odds
-120o / -102u
|Mississippi State Odds|
-120o / -102u
Tennessee just defeated South Carolina on the road, but suffered a significant loss in the process.
Olivier Nkamhoua will require surgery on his ankle, and he’ll miss the remainder of the season. This is the Volunteers’ third-leading scorer, so this is no small impact.
But the schedule will roll on for the Vols. They will travel to play Mississippi State — which is a far superior opponent to South Carolina — on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs are coming off of a road loss to Arkansas, so they will come out of the tunnel hot. They have their own injury issues with Tolu Smith, a significant offensive piece and a great rebounder. They do have other bigs who can fill his shoes, but this is a knock on the Bulldogs’ inside presence.
Expect the Bulldogs to cover and perhaps win the game, though.
The Volunteers are an elite defensive unit. This should not change with Nkamhoua sidelined.
Still, they will need to run on all engines against one of the best offensive attacks in the SEC.
Tennessee is at its best when it’s turning opponents over, so Mississippi State will have to mitigate the damage. The Bulldogs rank 194th in turnover percentage, so Tennessee could exploit this issue.
That said, Tennessee’s guards force most of the turnovers for the club. If Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar can control the ball, the Bulldogs might be in OK shape.
The Volunteers get the bulk of their points from behind the 3-point line. 36.8% of their scoring this season has come from downtown, and they will likely attack the Bulldogs’ defense this way.
Mississippi State allows opponents to shoot 33.3% from 3-point land on average this season. Alabama, LSU and Texas were able to contain the Tennessee 3-point attack.
If the Volunteers get cold, Mississippi State will win this game.
One issue which could come to the forefront in this game is Tennessee’s lack of ability from the free throw line. The Vols shoot less than 70% as a team, and as most college basketball fans know, this is crucial in a tight game.
Mississippi State is slightly stronger from the strike. The Bulldogs shoot 72.6% as a team, so this gives them a small edge over the Volunteers.
They also like to get to the free throw line, as they rank 37th in free throw attempts this season. Tennessee tends to be over-aggressive, so this is something to keep an eye on.
The Bulldogs also manufacture most of their points from inside the arc. Only 22.6% of their scoring has come from downtown on the season, so they will play through their bigs.
This, in turn, could give them a significant rebounding advantage. Mississippi State ranks 20th on offense and 40th on defensive in rebounding percentage. Meanwhile, Tennessee is 36th and 114th, respectively, in those same categories.
There is an opportunity for the Bulldogs to get a multitude of second scoring chances on the offensive end. Do not forget, Nkamhoua averaged 5.6 rebounds per game, so removing him from the equation greatly impacts the Volunteers’ inside approach.
He was their best defensive rebounder, so playing Mississippi State the game after he sustains a season-ending injury is not ideal for the Volunteers. Look for Garrison Brooks to have a strong performance as the Bulldogs’ primary big.
Finally, if Tennessee gets hot from outside, Mississippi State will need to find points quickly. Much of this would depend on the Bulldogs’ three best outside shooters: Molinar, Shakeel Moore and D.J. Jeffries.
If they are cold, they will continue to get the ball inside as much as possible. Molinar can drive and get to the free throw line as needed.
Tennessee vs. Mississippi State Betting Pick
Take the Mississippi State Bulldogs as the home underdog. Tennessee lost too much with the injury to Nkamhoua, and it will be felt in this game.
Mississippi State has a strong inside presence and will own the rebounding margin in this game.