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Tennessee vs. Mississippi State: Picks, predictions for SEC matchup on Wednesday

The Volunteers and the Bulldogs meet in an SEC matchup on Wednesday.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in an SEC matchup on Wednesday, January 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET from Starkville, Mississippi.

Tennessee (11-3) ranks fifth overall at KenPom and second in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Vols dominated against Ole Miss in their latest game, defeating the Rebels 90-64. Tennessee’s best wins this year have come against Illinois and Wisconsin, and their losses came at the hands of Purdue, Kansas, and UNC as the Vols had the misfortune of playing against three top-10 teams in a row.

Tennessee is led by guard Dalton Knecht, who averages 15.1 points per game, and forward Josiah-Jordan James, who adds 11.1 rebounds per game. However, Tennessee’s real strengths come from their defense. They allow opponents to score just 64.3 points per game on average — ranking 23rd in the nation — on 37.6% shooting, ranking fourth in the nation.

Mississippi State (11-3) is coming off a six-point road loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs rank 28th overall at KenPom and 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Their other two losses came against Southern University and Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs have not been particularly challenged this season, and have yet to play a currently-ranked team.

The Bulldogs are led by guard Josh Hubbard, who averages 14.4 points per game, and by forward Jimmy Bell Jr., who averages 8.6 boards per night. Like Tennessee, Mississippi State’s defense is their strong suit. They allow opponents to score just 63.1 points per night on 38.8% shooting, each ranking 11th in the nation.

Tennessee will likely be able to win this game as the far more battle-tested team, but for me, the smart money is on the under. This will be a showdown between two of the best defenses in the nation, and there won’t be a lot of scoring going on here.

Tennessee vs. Mississippi State odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Tennessee -2
Total: 137.5
Moneyline: Tennessee -130, Mississippi State +110

Pick: Under 137.5