The slogan “defenses wins championships” figures to be used heavily Tuesday with the Mississippi State Bulldogs going to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers (-10.5, 121.5)
Tennessee enters Tuesday’s game having allowed the fewest points per possession of any team in the country while Mississippi State ranks fourth in this category. The Bulldogs have allowed just one team to exceed 66 points against them this season while Tennessee has allowed more than 70 points twice this season.
Both teams have generated lots of turnovers, with Tennessee ranked third among Division I teams in turnovers forced on a per-possession basis while Mississippi State is 22nd in this category. On offense, both teams rank outside of the top 240 in turnovers committed per possession.
Neither team has shot well from 3-point range, either. Tennessee is 230th in 3-point shooting percentage and Mississippi State 278th, but the Bulldogs offense has traveled well.
Mississippi State is making just 28.6% of their 3-point shots at home compared to 35.6% of their outside shots in road and neutral court games.
With these two teams putting up identical numbers on the glass — Tennessee is 14th in the country in rebound rate and Mississippi State is 15th — it makes Bulldogs big man Tolu Smith an x-factor.
Tennessee does not have a player that is averaging more than 5.8 rebounds per game. With Smith leading the way for Mississippi State with 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, it gives the underdog Bulldogs extra value on Tuesday.
The Play: Mississippi State +11
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