Mississippi vs. Mississippi St. Free Pick 02/21/17 – Larry Ness CBB Predictions
By Larry Ness
Ole Miss is 16-11 overall (7-7 in SEC play) as it travels to Starkville to take on in-state rival Mississippi St. The Bulldogs are just 14-12, including 5-9 in league play and have little to play for here other than there is always something special about beating a bitter rival. As a bonus, a win over Ole Miss would deal a major blow to the visiting Rebels’ at-large NCAA hopes.
Ole Miss is 4-2 in its last six games and needs a strong finish to keep flickering hopes alive for a spot in the Big Dance. The Rebels have scored 80-plus points in five of their last six and average 78.1 PPG on the season. Guards Burnett (16.9) and Davis (14.7 & 5.5) are joined in double figures by the 6-9 Saiz (15.0 & 11.0), who has produced 17 double-doubles on the season plus leads the SEC in rebounding. However, 80 points wasn’t good enough to win the last time out, as the Rebels allowed Arkansas to score 98 points. I’m not even a little bit sold on Ole Miss, as the team allows almost as many points as it scores (76.4 PPG, which ranks 274th in the nation).
The Bulldogs had a promising start to the season, opening 12-5, including 3-1 in SEC play. However, they have now lost four straight games and eight of their last 10 (1-8 in SEC play!). Sophomore guard Weatherspoon (16.7 & 5.0) is the team’s best player and is joined in double figures by two freshman. Guard Peters averages 11.8 PPG and 3.5 APG plus the 6-7 Kegler adds 10.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG. The 6-10 Holman (8.6 & 6.2) and guard Ready (8.1) are also solid contributors.
Miss St was hardly at its best when these teams met in Oxford back on Jan 31, as Ole Miss gave up its fewest points in an SEC game this season plus forced 19 turnovers in an 88-61 victory. However, Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland has shown his coaching chops in previous stops at Pittsburgh and UCLA. The Rebels can easily be ‘had’ away from home and I’m taking the home team in this rivalry game.