Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Tuesday, Jan. 3)

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Tuesday, Jan. 3) article feature image

Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Santiago Vescovi

  • The Tennessee Volunteers host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in SEC action on Tuesday night.
  • Tennessee is a double-digit favorite with a low game total, as both of these teams play incredible defense.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 3
7 p.m. ET
Mississippi State Odds
-110o / -110u
Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After a brief break to ring in the New Year, No. 8 Tennessee returns to action on Tuesday night, welcoming Mississippi State to Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Volunteers opened SEC play with a slim victory against Ole Miss on the road last week.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs could not avoid defeat against No. 7 Alabama in their SEC opener, which dropped the school out of the Top-25 rankings.

These are two squads that play very tough defense, and I think the visitors may not be able to keep up the scoring in this contest.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Coach Chris Jans got off to a great start in his debut season in Starkville, Miss., winning his first 11 games at his new school. However, the Bulldogs have dropped the last two to the Crimson Tide and Drake.

Jans’ squad has used the defense to carry the team so far, which ranks inside the Top 25 in the country in adjusted efficiency (seventh), opponents’ 2-point shooting (10th), effective field goal percentage (12th) and turnover percentage (17th), according to barttorvik.com.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also do a great job at guarding 3-pointers (41st) and avoiding fouling. It is impressive how quickly Jans has turned this program into one of the top defensive units in the nation.

Besides the struggles offensively, the other big question surrounding MSU is whether the strong metrics are skewed because of a soft schedule, which is outside the Top 280 by Kenpom.

Regardless of the schedule, this could be a dangerous team on a nightly basis and in March if Jans can find consistent scorers.

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Tennessee Volunteers

Coach Rick Barnes has built a strong program at Tennessee, and this year’s version is no different. This is a very tough Vols squad that is absolutely suffocating on defense.

Barnes’ team has even better metrics than the Bulldogs, holding the best AdjD, EFG% and 3-point percentage defense in the country. This is also the same squad that is third in turnover percentage and eighth in 2-point percentage on defense.

To sum it up, the Volunteers have a pretty strong argument that they are the best defense in the country, which is likely not what MSU is looking forward to facing due to the offensive struggles.

Barnes also boasts a well-balanced scoring team, with five players averaging double figures on the season. Guard Santiago Vescovi leads the Vols with 12.7 points per game, but they can beat you with different members on any given night.

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Betting Pick

When I look at the odds at FanDuel, I’m can't back Tennessee to win by double digits in a game with a low total, which is why I see the best betting value in another spot.

With that said, my best bet is for Mississippi State’s Team Total to fall under 56 once it’s posted, which I would play to 54.

The Bulldogs are not a good offensive team, ranking outside the Top 200 in AdjO, EFG%, 2-point % and 3-point shooting. This has also come against the bad competition in the non-conference.

In the games against better teams on their schedule, MSU scored 58 against Marquette, 52 versus Utah and 52 in the contest with Drake. These were all played on neutral floors.

Meanwhile, these are also two schools that play at slower tempos, with the Bulldogs entering in 331st in tempo and Tennessee 201st.

I just have a hard time seeing Jans’ unit producing enough quality possessions and shots to get over this total, especially when you give a veteran Vols’ squad a full week to prepare for your offense.

I also don’t hate a look at the game falling under 121.5, but I think the team total is a better play.

Pick: MSU Team Total Under 56 (Play to 54)

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