A sizzling showdown is on tap Friday as Tennessee battles Mississippi State at 7 p.m. ET in a nationally televised SEC tournament quarterfinal. While the Vols are vying for a high seed for the NCAA Tournament, the 22-10 Bulldogs desperately need to amass wins to stay off the tournament bubble.
Tennessee opened as a 6.5-point favorite and now is laying 8.5. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 134, down from its opening of 136.5.
Before picking either side, you need to read what SportsLine college hoops expert Josh Nagel, who has put together an impressive 9-3 run picking college basketball games against the spread, has to say.
Last week, Nagel made another strong SEC pick, confidently selecting Texas A&M as a one-point underdog against Georgia. He wisely recognized that the Aggies were in desperation mode after a three-game skid and the Bulldogs would experience a big letdown after a dominant win over LSU. The result: Texas A&M won 61-60, allowing Nagel to cover.
Nagel, a veteran college sports specialist with a strong analytical background, has examined every matchup, every player and every trend for Tennessee-Mississippi State and locked in his confident pick against the spread. We can tell you he’s expecting a high-scoring affair and is leaning toward the over, but what about the spread?
Nagel knows the Volunteers can cover the spread by forcing Mississippi State to shoot from the perimeter. The Bulldogs shoot 31 percent from beyond the arc, and leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon is hitting 3-pointers at a 32 percent clip. Tennessee big man Admiral Schofield, who leads the Vols in rebounding, will be called on to clear the boards, keeping Weatherspoon from scoring on put-backs.
But the Bulldogs can cover the spread — or win outright — by forcing the rock out of Grant Williams’ hands. The Vols’ leading scorer averages 15.6 points and is hitting 47 percent of his shots from the field. Mississippi State must also keep Tennessee, which hits 76 percent of its free throws, off the charity stripe.
So what side of Tennessee-Mississippi State do you need to be all over? Visit SportsLine now to see the strong point-spread pick by Nagel, who has absolutely crushed college basketball, and find out.
CBS Sports Staff