While the SEC may be a one horse race; the conference could have some of the toughest at large bids of any conference come March. Tonight, two SEC foes face off in Baton Rouge as the LSU Tigers host Mississippi State.
Mississippi State is looking to bounce back from a bad outing against Georgia, while the Tigers are looking to work towards improving their seeding in the upcoming SEC tournament. The Bulldogs won their first meeting at home against LSU, 76-71 back in late January.
Bulldogs bounce back
After starting the year 12-1, the Bulldogs have come crashing back down to earth. Since then they have gone 7-5 and have had a few questionable losses; most recently to Georgia at home. The Bulldogs of Mississippi State out shot the other Bulldogs from the field and from the free throw line. However, they gave up 11 three’s to Georgia and let them hang around all game and then lost in overtime.
This was Mississippi State’s first real bad loss of the season, besides their head scratcher against Akron at the beginning of the season. Every team has one or two of those in this long basketball season. This being Mississippi State’s second; I expect them to come out big in their game tonight. They have had a few days to think about that loss and should come to Louisiana with a mission in mind. No coach wants to look ahead, but #1 Kentucky is looming just one week away. Mississippi State wants to go into that big home game with some momentum.
Tiger hang over
Let’s be honest; LSU will never be a basketball school. However, their fans still come to support their team and it shows. The Tigers are 11-4 at home this season and have a great win against Marquette earlier this season at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. They have however, shown some what of a National Title game hang over this season. Their offense is nothing to get excited about and they haven’t exactly played well in the SEC, nor over their last 11 games. The Tigers are 4-7 over their last 11 and are a very mediocre 4-6 in conference play.
Behind junior Justin Hamilton, the Tigers struggle to find a consistent second scorer. Andre Stringer can be a good scorer, and is averaging 10 points per game. However, he is very streaky, and is only a 34% shooter from the field. As a team, the Tigers are barely shooting over 40% and often struggle in their half court offense.
The Sharp Pick
Sportsbooks had opened with Mississippi State at +1 with NCAA Basketball odds boards listing the total at 135.
Even though Mississippi State has not looked like themselves over the last few games; every good team has a late season lapse. They know they are going to the tournament and are probably looking ahead a bit too much. Coach Rick Stansbury will have his club ready and focused at the task; to go into Baton Rouge and get a win.
The SEC tournament seeding is at stake, and the Bulldogs could very well still grab the #2 seed from Florida. Both the Bulldogs and the Gators have very winnable conference games left on their schedule, besides Kentucky of course.
Florida has to end their season with a trip to Vanderbilt and a home date with Kentucky. Joe Catalano has providea a pick and preview for tonight’s matchup between Alabama and Florida, and it looks af if Florida will earn the “W” tonight.
I see the Bulldogs rebounding here and I like them as slight underdogs on the road against LSU. If you’re as confident as I am, take the money line with the Bulldogs. If not, some sports bettingshops are offering the line at +1.5 now. Best of luck!
My Pick: Mississippi State +1.5