SEC Preview and Free Pick
Mississippi State play the role of visitor tonight in Knoxville, Tennessee in a critical SEC event for both schools. The Vols host the Dogs in a late top contest on Thompson-Boling Arena hardwood slated for a 9:00 p.m. ET tipoff. SEC Preview and Free Pick: Vols – 8 over Bulldogs.
Tennessee may well set the school record for season wins this season but their true aim is to earn an SEC title. However and outright conference championship requires the team win out and receive help from co-leader LSU.
With the loss in the lone regular season contest against the rival Tigers the league tie-breaker goes to LSU. Don’t expect Tennessee to be playing with a big win hangover tonight after defeating Kentucky this past Saturday. First-place is the SEC is on the line and a top seed is still a possibility for coach Rick Barnes’ squad.
And if you respect the assessment of long time college coach Bruce Pearl this is a Mississippi State team that can compete for a college hoops title. “I do not want to see (Mississippi State) again this year. That is a team that can go in the NCAA Tournament and make some real noise,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told the media last week.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The loss of suspended guard Nick Weatherspoon has forced the Bulldogs to walk a tightrope. Since mid February the team has been without Nick’s 10 points per game and experience. Most notably it has been a dig to the team’s depth.
The loss at Auburn on Saturday saw State own a 41-21 advantage on the boards. But the lack of fresh legs in the backcourt resulted in 18 turnovers and little to no defensive pressure on the perimeter.
The Dogs leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon (18.8 points) did his part scoring 25 in the 80-75 loss to Pearl’s crew. Furthermore guard Tyson Carter has raised his level of play since N. Weatherspoon was suspended nearly doubling his season points per game average across the team’s last five games.
Grant Williams has executed a rinse and repeat of his 2017-18 campaign. The power forward is in line to win SEC Player of the Year Award for the second consecutive season. Jordan Bone (13.6 ppg) is considered by a number of college basketball pundits as the best point guard in Division I. Furthermore second-leading scorer Admiral Schofield (16.4 ppg) assisted in the blowout win over Kentucky on Saturday despite scoring less than 10 points for only the third time this season.
Tennessee has dominated the opposition at Thompson-Boling this season. Only one game as a host has found the Vols winning by less than 12 points. The free pick in Knoxville tonight is on the Vols minus the eight points as they run their season record to a perfect 18-0 on home hardwood.