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Mississippi State vs. Michigan State Expert Pick– March 21, 2024

Mississippi State vs. Michigan State Expert Pick– March 21, 2024

MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. MICHIGAN STATE EXPERT PICK – MARCH 21, 2024 – This promises to be one of the most physical and exciting games in the East region this year. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are coming off a red-hot SEC tournament in which they upset the #1 seeded Tennessee Volunteers. They fell a hair short of the SEC championship after losing to Auburn, but they covered, which is sometimes all that matters. 

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The Michigan State Spartans took care of the Minnesota Gophers in the Big Ten tournament, but lost to the #1 seeded Purdue Boilermakers, after they failed to contain Zach Edey. It’s been a subpar year for the Spartans, especially according to Tom Izzo’s standards. However, Sparty is always dangerous in the tournament and the physical nature of their team this year makes them a threat to play upset.

Read below for Mississippi State vs. Michigan State expert pick and prediction. 

The Odds 






Mississippi State

(21-13 SU) 





Michigan State

(19-14 SU) 






When: Thursday, March 21 at 11:15 a.m. EST 

Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.


Public Bets: Unavailable 

Public Money: Unavailable

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 18th, 2024

Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are one of my favorite teams in terms of disruption for the entire 2024 NCAA men’s tournament. Mississippi State ranks 20th on KenPom for adjusted defensive efficiency. They are physical and guard the three point line well. The physical nature of their big men means that they produce a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities for their offense.

Along with a topnotch offense, the Bulldogs rank 202 in adjusted tempo. This means that they support their stifling defense with a slow pace of play. Teams that play defense as well as the Bulldogs and control the tempo are often very dangerous in the tournament. This is because they don’t rely on hot shooters or the three point shot to win games. They are used to scrapping out wins in a tough conference and that’s what it takes in the tournament.

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Where the Bulldogs are vulnerable is on offense, where they rank 60th in adjusted offensive efficiency. If a team gets hot — as Michigan State is capable of doing — the Bulldogs don’t always have the firepower to keep up.

Anyone looking at the Tennessee upset in the SEC tournament should also be careful. Yes, the Bulldogs blew out the Vols in a statement win (likely earning themselves a tournament bid in the process), but Tennessee’s star guard, Dalton Knecht, was just plain awful. Had Knecht been even serviceable, the Vols may have turned their late game run into a game-winning hot streak.

Michigan State Spartans

If you think Mississippi State’s defense is good, check out the Spartans. Izzo’s squad ranks 8th on KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Michigan State can’t match Mississippi State in the physicality and they dominate the boards, whenever they aren’t playing Purdue. They are also extremely effective in the turnover game. The Spartans average 9.8 turnovers per game and work at a margin of +2.7 turnovers per game. They average 14.8 points off the turnovers.

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The Spartans also play way slower than the Bulldogs. They are ranked 305th in adjusted tempo. Both of these teams control the clock and rely on the physicality of their defense to win games. The Spartans are comfortable playing as slow as the Bulldogs, so there might not be as much potential for disruption.

Here’s my favorite statistic for the Spartans’ defense: their strength of schedule for opponent’s offense is 4th in the country. To be ranked in the top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency and continually face teams like Purdue and Illinois is impressive. They shouldn’t have a problem with the Bulldogs offense.

The Pick

Vegas has the under listed at 130.5 and I expect that to be played down under 130 before tipoff on Friday. Both teams play physical defense and rank high in adjusted defensive efficiency. They also like to play slowly, which matters more than defensive efficiency when playing the point total.

Because of the relative parity of both teams, I’m not comfortable taking a side. They stack up so closely in most categories that it might just be smart to take the underdog (Mississippi State, +1.5) simply because both teams play the same type of basketball.

The only real concern for Mississippi is the turnover margin. The Bulldogs play at a -0.4 turnover margin; whereas the Spartans are +2.6. If Michigan State can force turnovers early and convert that into points, they may be able to control the tempo in the second half and win and cover.

Given the similarity of the two teams, the under is the smart play.

Jack’s Pick

UNDER 130.5


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