NCAA March Madness: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Pittsburgh Panthers betting preview, odds and predictions
In a First Four matchup in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, the Mississippi State Bulldogs take on the Pittsburgh Panthers to find out who will face the sixth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones on Friday, March 17th. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Mississippi State vs. Pittsburgh
When: Tuesday, 9:10 p.m. ET
Where: Dayton, Ohio
Odds for Mississippi State vs. Pittsburgh
Spread: Mississippi State -2
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
Midwest Region No. 11 Seed Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State is one of the most bizarre teams in the nation. The Bulldogs are the worst three-point shooting team in all of college basketball, which puts them at a mathematical disadvantage the second they get out on the floor. However, Mississippi State somewhat makes up for it by doing a great job of defending the perimeter. On top of that, this Mississippi State team works really hard on the glass. More or less, the Bulldogs try to give their opponents hell and really make them earn their wins. Tolu Smith also happens to be a phenomenal player for this team, as he’s a threat to put up a double-double every game.
Midwest Region No. 11 Seed Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh was a beneficiary of getting to play in the weak ACC this season, as the team wasn’t all that impressive but managed to win more than 20 games. Still, it’s hard to rule out a team that is efficient offensively, and Jeff Capel’s group is certainly that. The Panthers have two guys that can be really tough to guard, with Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson both coming off fantastic regular seasons. Greg Elliott and Nelly Cummings are also players that can heat up and swing games. You might remember Cummings scoring 20 points against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of last year’s tournament, when he was with the Colgate Raiders. If Pittsburgh heats up, this team can beat anyone. However, the team is very beatable on the other end of the floor, and the group’s focus has been up and down all year.
Mississippi State vs. Pittsburgh Matchup Analysis
Pitt and Mississippi State were Nos. 65 and 66 in a Field of 68 that had one of the weaker bubbles in recent memory. These two teams had a similar fate meeting in Dayton, but that is where the similarities end. Stylistically, this is about as different as it gets when you look at how the Panthers and Bulldogs go about their business.
Pitt is around the national average in tempo, but Mississippi State ranks 334th in adjusted tempo, according to Ken Pomeroy. Of all NCAA Tournament teams, only Houston, Northern Kentucky, Saint Mary’s and Virginia are slower. The Bulldogs want to “ugly up” the game and succeed more often than not. This is a bunch that ranks ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency per Bart Torvik and sixth per KenPom.
While Mississippi State excels on defense, the opposite is true on offense. This is the worst 3-point shooting team in the country at 26.6%. Instead of taking long jumpers, the Bulldogs try to get to the rim, as nearly 40% of their shots are Close Twos, as defined by Torvik. Pitt, on the other hand, is bad on defense and great on offense, due in large part to a 36% success rate on 3-pointers. Pitt also takes a 3-pointer over 44% of the time.
The Panthers don’t get inside much, but they shoot very well on mid-range jumpers and 3s. Mississippi State is an efficient team at the rim and bad when shooting from everywhere else. The most important aspect of this game is whether or not Mississippi State can get to the rim. If they can’t, they’re going to have a very hard time scoring, and Pitt should advance.
The Panthers boast a top-25 adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom. Part of that is because they take good care of the basketball, but Mississippi State was one of the best at forcing turnovers. The rankings sites prefer the Bulldogs and they are slightly favored, but this game absolutely looks like it could go either way.
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