Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Pittsburgh Panthers First Four Prediction & Odds
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The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Pittsburgh Panthers found their way into the last four teams in the 2023 March Madness Tournament, edging out Rutgers, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other tourney hopefuls. The winner of this game will face off with the (6) Iowa State Hawkeyes as an 11-seed.
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How Mississippi State Bulldogs Win
From mid-December to late January, the Mississippi State Bulldogs lost eight of nine games and looked the farthest thing from an NCAA Tournament team.
That all changed with a win over the then-11th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs on January 28, subsequently rattling off five straight wins and eight of their next 10. An SEC tournament exit against the first overall Alabama Crimson Tide wasn’t much of a nick in their armor.
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The Bulldogs run through 6’11 PF/C Tolu Smith, who’s averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds on the season. He’s been above those averages of late, delivering a 28/12 line against the Florida Gators in their latest W.
Shakeel Moore and Dashawn Davis share PG duties, giving opponents a tough task when both are playing their best game.
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The Bulldogs play some of the best defense in the country, ranking 6th out of 363 via KenPom defensive ratings. The issue is their offense, which sits at 164. If the Bulldogs can put together 40 minutes of average offense, their defense will do enough to beat Pitt.
How Pittsburgh Panthers Win
The Pittsburgh Panthers played around the bubble for what felt like most of the season, and many had them not making the NCAA tournament after losing three of their last four games.
Viewers should be glad they did as there are two dominant players on this team in G Jamarius Burton and F Blake Hinson that deserve at least one more national viewing.
Both are averaging 15 PPG on the season, the Panthers rank top 25 in KemPom offense as they can turn to a plethora of typically efficient weapons. After Hinson and Burton, Nelly Cummings and Greg Elliott both average double digits and can pour it in from deep.
Where Pittsburgh struggles is on the defensive side, often giving up huge runs that either lose them a lead or put the game out of reach. If Pittsburgh can avoid giving up a big run to a typically slow Mississippi State offense, this is a game that is very much in their reach.
Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi State Prediction
Both Mississippi State and Pittsburgh play a slow brand of basketball, as shown by the 132.5 over/under. This game might not be pretty. The X-factor matchup here is going to be Blake Hinson vs Tolu Smith. Both are elite players and have NBA futures.
Give me the Pittsburgh Panthers to upset Mississippi State here. Blake Hinson and Jamarius Burton have enough firepower surrounding them to stifle a Mississippi State defense that isn’t used to this inside-out brand of basketball. Don't forget to place your wager on the best betting apps.
Best CBB Pick: Pittsburgh Panthers ML +110 at BetMGM ➜
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