Most of the focus for the Wednesday night college hoops card will be on Texas Tech vs. Texas, but we’ll be going in a different direction here at BangTheBook for January 13. We’ll check in on a different Texas team and look at the 9 p.m. ET matchup between Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are favored by 5.5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook with a total of 132. We haven’t seen a ton of movement on either side or total here, as the total has gone up a point and the side has fallen basically by a half-point, but with -115 on the home favorite, we could be back up to 6.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M is just 3-7 against the number this season, so they have not fulfilled bettors’ trust in their performance levels this season. They are 6-4 straight up, but covers have been few and far between. After beating Auburn by a bucket on January, Texas A&M followed up with a 24-point loss to a South Carolina team that hasn’t gotten into rhythm because of COVID and a 14-point to a very strong Tennessee team at home.
The Aggies have even gotten fortunate this season that opponents have only shot 61.1% from the free throw line. The win over Auburn wasn’t all that impressive, given that the Tigers have fallen way down this season and are actually winless in SEC play. Prior to that game, LSU beat Texas A&M by 23, so this is a team that is 1-3 in conference play and none of the losses have been close.
Texas A&M is shooting 53.5% on two-point shots, but just 29.9% on threes and they take a lot of them. The Aggies are coached by Buzz Williams, who had a 3 & D style of play with Virginia Tech before moving on to College Station. The Aggies rank 53rd in the nation in 3P Rate, with 43% of their field goal attempts coming from distance. Unfortunately, they don’t make a lot of them.
They are forcing the opposition to shoot a lot of threes. Their 3P Rate against is 48.7% and that is 342nd in the nation. Even in the win over Auburn, the Tigers canned 11 triples on 33 attempts. Opponents are shooting 34.5% from 3.
The problem for the Aggies is that they play at a very slow pace and also turn the ball over a ton. They’re giving up a lot of possessions with a 25.1% turnover rate and then they’re taking too many 3s as an inefficient jump shooting team.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Right from the jump, we have two areas to examine for Mississippi State. Three-point shooting and turnover rate. Ben Howland’s team is shooting 39.2% from 3, which ranks 19th in the nation. Their TO% on offense is 19.4%, which is around the national average. Those are two advantages for Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are a terrible free throw shooting team and they get to the line a lot because they are a top-10 team in offensive rebounding percentage at 37.9%. Their free throw percentage of 63.2% is among the bottom 50 in the nation, but this is a team that has improved greatly since the two opening games of the season.
Mississippi State lost by 11 to Clemson and 11 to Liberty to open the year. Since then, the only losses for the Bulldogs have been double overtime losses to Dayton and Kentucky. They just clubbed Missouri by 15 and then snuck past Vanderbilt by three, but it was a tough spot against the Commodores and they managed to find a way to win, despite a 15-of-33 performance from deep by Vandy.
Mississippi State does shoot 39.2% from 3, but they don’t take many. They rank 338th in 3P Rate in the nation. They’ve taken 13 three-pointers in the last two games. That could be why we’ve seen some Texas A&M money come in for this one. What the Aggies do defensively will force Mississippi State to change its offensive strategy a little bit.
Pick & Analysis
This is actually a fascinating game. Mississippi State does not defend the three well and A&M will chuck from anywhere. A&M forces teams into threes and Mississippi State can make them, but doesn’t take them. It’s really an intriguing contrast of styles.
Texas A&M’s turnover problems are really worrisome, even in a game where Mississippi State may really struggle. Both of these teams play at slow tempos, so I’m looking at under 132. Mississippi State’s offensive style doesn’t jive with what A&M will force them into and I’d expect the Aggies to throw some possessions away.