NCAAB Mississippi State Vs. Tennessee Odds, Picks, Predictions (1/3/23)

College basketball is back on full display now that Bowl season has come to an end. Even the NBA is taking a night off with only three games scheduled for today, meaning the NCAAB has the spotlight. A game that encapsulates that is a battle between two SEC teams when the Mississippi State Bulldogs take on the Tennessee Volunteers in what will be a defensive slugfest. After some recent struggles, can the Bulldogs shock the nation with a huge win? Get Mississippi State Vs. Tennessee predictions, picks, and odds. 

Mississippi State Vs. Tennessee Odds

Oddsmakers tempered their expectations of an upset win, opening the Bulldogs as a +10.5 underdog on the open. Bettors believe they have a better chance of winning, backing them down to as low as +9.5 in some shops as of writing. Tennessee’s offensive production has been falling off a cliff to the point they don’t qualify as a historic NCAAB championship prerequisite. The Bulldogs have the defense to keep that trend going and keep this close.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a premium as oddsmakers opened the total at 120.5. Bettors believe this was set too low, taking the total up to as high as 123.5. This was eye opening and a bet worth monitoring should this continue to climb. Both offensive units have been very poor, and I fail to see how either unit will find consistent scoring success. Should this number continue to rise I will have no choice but to take the under.

Mississippi State Vs. Tennessee Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Mississippi State +10

With that said, I will stick with my pregame pick of backing the Bulldogs at +9 or higher in what will be a defensive slugfest. I will also keep an eye on the total, backing the under should this continue to climb as both offenses may be prone to going into scoring lulls throughout the course of the game. Especially on Tennessee’s end, a unit that has fallen off a cliff in terms of offensive production.

As previously mentioned, their offensive production has gotten so bad that they no longer qualify as a team capable of winning the National Championship. Simple prerequisites of a championship winning team entail that their combined adjusted efficiency rankings equal a combined 50 or less per Kenpom. As of writing, Tennessee ranks first in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, but 54th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

They lack a true go-to scorer, a player who can take over in late game situations and is a constant threat at all times. Instead, they score at a mediocre pace by committee. The Vols currently play nine players in meaningful minutes with five of them in double digit scoring figures but none of them cracking 13 points per game.

They now get the privilege of going against another fantastic defensive unit, a Bulldogs team that ranks sixth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. While not necessarily Havoc minded, they do their defensive damage by smothering opposing looks and turning them into low quality shots. The Bulldogs currently rank top-25 in both two point and three-point defensive shooting percentage.

Mississippi State Vs. Tennessee Key Matchups

The defensive play is nice and all, but can the Bulldogs find scoring production to keep within the number?

Mississippi State scoring production vs Tennessee defense

Like Tennessee, Mississippi State’s offense has been a thorn in their own side throughout the season. While ranked in the top-10 in AdjD, the Bulldogs rank a lowly 140th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. Not ideal for a team trying to be a serious SEC conference championship contender.

But what they do have on offense that the Volunteers don’t is a true go-to scorer who you can rely on in late game situations. Tolu Smith has been the Bulldogs star player, averaging 14.8 points per game and the only player in double digit figures.

Should he get going early on and command the Vols defensive attention down low where he does his damage, this will open up opportunities for their secondary scoring. If the Bulldogs can find scoring production and continue to play defense at an elite level, they should have no issue in keeping this a tight one.

Verdict

Take the Bulldogs at +9 or higher in what will be a thrilling display of defensive dominance. Also make sure to keep an eye on the total and take the under should this number continue to climb.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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