Mississippi vs. Mississippi State
College Basketball Prediction: Miss. St. -2.5 points (February 21st 2017)
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Ole Miss is 16-11 overall (7-7 in SEC play) as it travels to Starkville to take on in-state rival Mississippi St. The Bulldogs are just 14-12, including 5-9 in league play and have little to play for here other than there is always something special about beating a bitter rival. As a bonus, a win over Ole Miss would deal a major blow to the visiting Rebels’ at-large NCAA hopes.
Ole Miss is 4-2 in its last six games and needs a strong finish to keep flickering hopes alive for a spot in the Big Dance. The Rebels have scored 80-plus points in five of their last six and average 78.1 PPG on the season. Guards Burnett (16.9) and Davis (14.7 & 5.5) are joined in double figures by the 6-9 Saiz (15.0 & 11.0), who has produced 17 double-doubles on the season plus leads the SEC in rebounding. However, 80 points wasn’t good enough to win the last time out, as the Rebels allowed Arkansas to score 98 points. I’m not even a little bit sold on Ole Miss, as the team allows almost as many points as it scores (76.4 PPG, which ranks 274th in the nation).
The Bulldogs had a promising start to the season, opening 12-5, including 3-1 in SEC play. However, they have now lost four straight games and eight of their last 10 (1-8 in SEC play!). Sophomore guard Weatherspoon (16.7 & 5.0) is the team’s best player and is joined in double figures by two freshman. Guard Peters averages 11.8 PPG and 3.5 APG plus the 6-7 Kegler adds 10.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG. The 6-10 Holman (8.6 & 6.2) and guard Ready (8.1) are also solid contributors.
Miss St was hardly at its best when these teams met in Oxford back on Jan 31, as Ole Miss gave up its fewest points in an SEC game this season plus forced 19 turnovers in an 88-61 victory. However, Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland has shown his coaching chops in previous stops at Pittsburgh and UCLA. The Rebels can easily be ‘had’ away from home and I’m taking the home team in this rivalry game.
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
College Basketball Pick: Iowa State +1.5 (February 20th 2017)
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The Cyclones are worth a look here at basically a pick’em against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is 15-2 at home, covered the spread in 5 straight games and gave Iowa State all they could handle in Ames earlier this season. It certainly seems like the books are begging for you to jump on the home team in this one. What a lot of people will overlook is the Red Raiders are coming off a double-overtime loss to West Virginia on Saturday. Not only is that a difficult loss to bounce back from emotionally, it will be even more challenging rebounding with just 1-day of rest. They had 3 starters log over 40 minutes, two more played 30+ and two more at 20+. For a team that only uses a 7-man rotation, I think their attempt at revenge will be spoiled by an Iowa State team that is playing some of the best basketball of the season right now. Give me the Cyclones +1.5!
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Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers
College Basketball Pick: Utah -12.5 points (February 19th 2017)
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The 17-9 Utah Utes are 8-6 in Pac 12 play and are in the running for a top-four finish in conference play, which would give them a first-round by in the upcoming Pac 12 tourney. They travel to Corvallis Sunday evening to face an Oregon State team which opened the season by going 4-9 in non-conference play but remains winless in Pac 12 games so far, at 0-14.
Oregon State’s season ended for all practical purposes when 6-8 forward Tres Tinkle (20.2-8.3), the coach’s son, broke his wrist after six games. Guards Thompson (16.1 & 4.4) and McLaughlin (11.2) plus the 6-10 Eubanks (14.8 & 8.4) are quality players but the Beavers just don’t have enough talent to break through in Pac 12 contests.
Utah may have to play without its best player as well, the 6-9 Kuzma (15.7 & 10.2). He missed Thursday’s 79-61 loss at No.7 Oregon after spraining an ankle in practice the previous day, Kuzma has a Pac-12-high15 double-doubles on the season but his availability is expected to be a game-time decision. The 6-8 Collette (14.4-4.9) is a nice frontcourt partner for Kuzma plus Utah has a deep group of perimeter players in guards Bonam (12.7), Daniels (10.5-4.8), Barefield (9.4), Zamora (7.5) and Van Dyke (5.1). What I like most about this team is its efficiency, as Utah makes 50.6 percent of its shots, ranking 4th in the nation.
The Utes were no match for the Ducks on Thursday but this game and a visit to Colorado next Thursday (Utah’s lone game next week), are almost “musts” if the Utes want that first-round Pac 12 tourney bye. Lay the points.
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