NCAA Basketball Picks: Auburn vs. Mississippi State to Kick Off SEC Tournament

Steven Suarez

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:04 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015 12:04 PM GMT

The SEC tournament kicks off on Wednesday, and we've got a first round matchup between Auburn and Mississippi State. Who are the college basketball odds favoring tonight?

Odds Overview
There's very little separating these teams when we look over the NCAA Basketball odds. The Bulldogs are the favorites, but they're only laying one point on the neutral court, so we should be seeing a game that comes down to the wire this evening.

If you want to take a chance on the total instead, the O/U is trading at 134.5 right now. Neither of these teams has done much offensively or defensively, so we're going to be staying away.

 

Auburn Tigers
Not only did the Tigers finish the regular season with the second-worst conference record, they will enter the SEC tournament on quite a lengthy losing streak. They've lost six consecutive games, with four of those six contests ending in blowout fashion.

It has not been a successful season by any stretch of the imagination for Auburn, but tournament time provides a second chance. The Tigers will take on the similarly disappointing Bulldogs, so they have a reasonable shot of advancing on to the second round. Recent performances have to be a concern though, and you have to question what kind of mindset Auburn will come into the tournament with.

Individually, the Tigers have been led by KT Harrell, Antoine Mason and Cimmeon Bowers. Harrell averages a team-best 18.1 points per game but hasn't really offered much besides his scoring. Mason has been in a similar mold, putting up 15.1 points per game but little else. It's really been Bowers that's done most, as he averaged 12.6 rebounds and 9.7 rebounds per contest during the regular season. To put that in perspective, no other Auburn player pulled down more than 3.3 rebounds a game. Bowers is going to have to come up big for the Tigers to have a chance.

 

Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs didnt finish the regular season on a hot streak or anything, but they at least managed to end a growing losing streak by ending on a high note, which was beating Missouri at home. The Bulldogs showed up defensively, holding the Tigers to just 43 points in the win.

It was a rare highlight in what's been a tough road in the SEC for Mississippi State. Yes, the Bulldogs managed to secure wins over the likes of LSU and Tennessee, but overall they finished just 6-12 in conference play and 13-18 overall. Only Auburn and Missouri had worse records than the Bulldogs.

It's been tough sledding offensively for Mississippi State throughout the season, as Craig Sword and Gavin Ware were the only two players to average in double figures. Ware averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while Sword led the team with 11.0 points per contest in the regular season. If the Bulldogs are going to win tonight's first round game, it's going to because they showed grit and intensity defensively, as that's what's been carrying them.

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NCAA Basketball Pick
It's hard to get too excited about backing either one of these teams with our NCAA Basketball Picks, but we do think the Bulldogs are slightly better and therefore will side with them on the neutral court.

These two conference foes met up once during the regular season, with Mississippi State emerging victorious by seven points on the road.

It's going to be a different atmosphere in the tournament, but we believe we'll be seeing a similar result regardless. The Bulldogs have had their fair share of disappointment, but they've battled hard in a lot of their losses, and they should also have the advantage on the glass this evening. With that in mind, we're laying the small number and putting our faith in Mississippi State to advance.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Mississippi State Bulldogs -2 at BookMaker

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