Today marks the 10th annual SEC/Big-12 challenge as ten teams from each league will match up today, as both leagues take a little break from conference play to provide us some great college basketball action.
We have seen a lot of these league challenges pop up over the years, with the ACC/Big 10 challenge being the pioneering event. But this year, for my money, the SEC/Big-12 challenge will provide the most in terms of elite matchups and entertainment value.
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) January 23, 2020
The headliners of this year’s event are games between Baylor at Florida, Tennessee at Kansas, LSU at Texas, and Kentucky at Texas Tech. For our daily betting pick, we will breakdown the action between Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-6) at Oklahoma Sooners (12-6)
- Oklahoma City Arena, Oklahoma City
- 11:00 AM PST
- TV: ESPN2
The Oklahoma Sooners host the Mississippi State Bulldogs today in Oklahoma City. While the game isn’t being played on campus in Norman, you can expect the Sooner faithful to be out in droves as the game is being held just a short twenty-minute drive away from campus. The Sooners would love to pick up a signature win in the non-conference to go with earlier season non-league victories over top-100 teams like Minnesota, Oregon State, Missouri, and North Texas.
Gameday in OKC! #PackThePeake
— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) January 25, 2020
For Mississippi State, the Bulldogs have reeled off three consecutive wins over quality opposition, and they too are building a case to make the NCAA tournament. The one glaring issue with their current resume is the lack of big wins out of conference, as they have just one top-100 win outside of league play, and that came over 91st ranked Kansas State. They will get a chance to add to that tonight against a top-50 Sooners team.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
We already mentioned that the Bulldogs didn’t have a lot of success in the non-conference, but to be fair to Ben Howland’s team, they didn’t have many opportunities to play good teams and pick up quality wins. The Bulldogs played just four top-100 teams in the non-conference, going 1-3. When you look back on the resume as a whole, all of the losses have come to top-100 teams, so there aren’t any real bad losses, but quality wins have been light.
But it does appear that Howland has things moving in the right direction here in SEC play, as after starting out league play 0-3, Mississippi State has won three straight, all against solid teams, all on their home floor. They are coming off of a win over Arkansas in their last game, that is their biggest win of the season, and will hope to ride that momentum to a big win tonight.
The Sooners are very much the opposite of Mississippi State, as they have played an absolutely brutal schedule so far this year. Their SOS is sitting at sixth in the nation, and they have seven top-100 wins, and all six of their losses came to top-100 teams. The Sooners have fallen on hard times lately, losing three out of their last four games, but when you look at who they have played, it is hard to knock them too much.
Two of those losses came to top five teams, Baylor and Kansas. And they nearly defeated Baylor, the nation’s top-ranked team, in their last game, as they held a double-digit lead late in the second half. The one win during this stretch came against a strong TCU team. The Sooners hold the rare distinction of being a very balanced team as they are in the top-60 on kenpom for both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Who Do I Like?
What a fun game we have in store for you in this one. Two middle of the pack power conference teams fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. Whichever one of these teams picks up the win tonight will surely be touting it on Selection Sunday. So, where do I draw the line in this one? Home court advantage.
While this isn’t a true home game, we all know that this will be a Sooners heavy crowd, so it wouldn’t be fair to call this a neutral site game either. Kenpom calls these semi-home games, and that makes sense to me.
We saw this line open up at Mississippi State as -1.5-point favorites. And that was fairly surprising to me, given that this game was being played on Oklahoma’s home turf in OKC. And the early betting sharps agreed with me as they have jumped all over Oklahoma, shifting it first to a pick ‘em, and then to Oklahoma -1, where the line stands now.
I am going to jump on the side of the sharps in this one. I bet it last night at Oklahoma +1.5, and I still think it has value at Oklahoma -1. Now, this game has a rare opportunity to appeal to both the sharps and the general betting public, which means it could move at least another point or two before tipoff.
So, if you want to back the Sooners, you need to jump on this now, or you are going to have to lay more points than you need to. Give me the Oklahoma Sooners this morning, laying a point, in their home state in what should be a non-conference thriller!