We picked up a nice win yesterday when we backed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at home against Purdue. The Knights were basically unbeatable last year at home, and that success has carried over into this year as well, as no team has gone into the RAC and come away with a win in 2020. So, when I saw I could back them laying just -3 points against an overachieving yet flawed Purdue team, I jumped all over it.
The Boilermakers gave a full effort, and they made us sweat it out, but when all was said and done in New Jersey last night, Rutgers again protected their home floor with a win and cover. In my estimation, there might not be a team in the country that is being as undervalued as Rutgers right now. The Scarlet Knights are a fringe top-10 team nationally, and with the Big 10 being so jam-packed with talented teams, you just don’t hear much about Rutgers.
Down goes Purdue as we improve to 3-1 in the Big Ten
— Rutgers Basketball 🏀 (@RutgersMBB) December 30, 2020
But mark my words, this Rutgers team is going to win a lot of games in the Big 10, and they will absolutely be in the mix for the regular-season league title. For Purdue, the Boilermakers continue to show a lot of heart, but some of these Big 10 teams are going to have to struggle, as they can’t all make the NCAA tournament, and I see Purdue as being the odd man out this season.
This is already the second road loss of the year in league play for Purdue, and looking ahead on the schedule, it is hard to find many potential road wins for Matt Painter’s team. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will take a look at another team that hasn’t played well away from home, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs take their show on the road to Athens, to play the Georgia Bulldogs.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-3) at Georgia Bulldogs (7-0)
- Stegman Coliseum, Athens
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: SECN
We have a dog fight on our hands as the Mississippi State Bulldogs will look to pick up their first win this season outside of Starkville tonight, as they play the Georgia Bulldogs in an SEC conference game. Mississippi State is expected to be down this year, and if they can pick up the upset victory tonight on the road, it would be their first win over the top-100 this season. Entering play tonight, the Bulldog’s best win came over 102nd ranked North Texas.
⌚️ 7 p.m. EST
📍 Stegeman Coliseum
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) December 30, 2020
For Georgia, the Bulldogs also had limited expectations coming into this season, but have played well, running up an undefeated 7-0 record. All seven of those wins have come here at home, including a decent win over 76th ranked Cincinnati. Tonight marks the opening game of SEC play for both teams, and with the league loaded with strong teams, any team finishing with a winning record is going to have a shot at dancing in March.
Georgia Bulldogs (7-0)
In his 3rd season at the helm at Georgia, Tom Crean has slowly seen his Bulldogs improve in each season. Last year, the Bulldogs wasted freshman sensation Anthony Edward’s lone year in Athens with a mediocre 16-16 season, but they were greatly improved from the year before, and this year, even after seeing Edwards leave as the number one pick in the NBA draft, Georgia should once again be better. Crean has made a name for himself both in his time at Marquette, where he took the Golden Eagles to a Final Four, and at Indiana, where he led the Hoosiers to 3 Sweet 16’s in his final 6 seasons in Bloomington.
Crean is absolutely the guy to get things turned around at Georgia. The only question is, will it be this year or next? The Bulldogs play a fast pace that has seen them score over 81 points per game. They do a great job on the boards as one of the top rebounding teams in the country, and they pass the ball well. The big issue for Georgia is their atrocious 3-point shooting. They make just 29% of their shots from beyond the arc and will have to find a way to better as they hit SEC play, if they want to compete in a very tough league.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-3)
This is going to be a rebuilding year for Ben Howland’s Mississippi State team. They weren’t great last year, and they lost a lot of talent from that team that likely wasn’t going to get an at-large bid. Howland is a fantastic coach, but right now, he just doesn’t have the bodies to compete in the SEC.
Despite playing a very soft schedule, the Bulldogs have struggled on the defensive side of the ball. Their painfully slow tempo has masked those struggles some, as they aren’t giving up a ton of points, but they just haven’t been able to force enough turnovers to slow teams down.
At home this season, the Bulldogs have played well, albeit against some weak competition. Three of their five home wins have come against teams outside of the top-250 nationally. On neural floor games, they are 0-3. This will be the first road game of the year for Mississippi State, and it’s hard to see them improving from last year, when they were just 3-6 in road conference games. Howland will do a good job of keeping this team competitive most nights, but don’t expect too many wins for the Bulldogs this year in the SEC, particularly on the road.
Who Do I Like?
The records in this game might lead you to believe that Georgia is the far better team in this matchup, but that just isn’t the case. This is a very evenly matched contest. Georgia has played well, but they have played exclusively at home and against weak teams. Once the Bulldogs get deeper into SEC play, we will see that undefeated record get poked full of holes, as the competition goes up significantly. That being said, this is another soft spot for Georgia tonight, as Mississippi State isn’t very good either.
I see Georgia taking advantage of another nice spot and winning this one tonight at home. When this series shifts to Starkville later in the year, I’ll probably switch sides and back Mississippi State. These teams are just too evenly matched to expect either one of them to win on the opposing team’s floor. I wouldn’t want to lay a bunch of wood on Georgia, as this game is likely going to be fairly close, but at just -2 points, I see an easy cover for Georgia.
One thing that makes me really like Georgia to cover in this one is how awful Mississippi State is at the free-throw line. They shoot just 58% from the charity stripe, 321st in the nation. If this game comes down to the final few possessions, which I am sure that it will, you just can’t count on Mississippi State to hit their free throws when they need to. Georgia isn’t amazing at the line either, at just over 70% as a team, but that is a fairly major gap in production, and I see it as the difference tonight in a tight one.
Give me the Georgia Bulldogs tonight as they lead throughout and hit their free throws late to seal the deal and cover the spread. The free ride is almost over for Georgia as they head out on the road against Arkansas and LSU in their next two games after this one, and I see Crean nailing down one last home floor win before things start to take a turn for the worse. I’ll call it a 74-68 final score from Athens!