SEC Basketball Predictions: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators

No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs at No. 13 Florida Gators
Saturday, 1/28/12, 1:30 PM EST, TV:  ESPN3
Opening Point Spread:  Florida -10
Current Betting Line:  Florida -9.5
Opening Total:  149
Current Total:  147
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 5-0 ATS as an underdog this season

Mississippi State has tallied two impressive wins in its last two contests and has gone “over” the total in three straight games.  The Bulldogs have won four out of five in this series, but have split their last four games in Gainesville inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.  There’s no question the entire locker room gained confidence in its 78-77 overtime win over the Vanderbilt Commodores as 6.5-point road underdogs on Feb. 21, leading to a 76-71 home win over the LSU Tigers last time out.  “We didn’t get our heads down,” commented Bulldogs guard Jalen Steele about the comeback win over the Commodores.  “We kept our confidence.”  Mississippi State Bulldogs are 5-0 ATS as a underdog this year.

The Bulldogs have four of five starters averaging in double figures, with junior forward Arnett Moultrie leading the way in scoring 17.1 points and grabbing 11.2 rebounds per game.  Senior guard Dee Bost figures to play a major role in Saturday’s outcome, averaging 12 points and 5.8 assists in four career games versus Florida, while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor.  This particular contest features three of the Southeastern Conference’s top-five scorers.

Florida will open its longest homestand of the season Saturday and will play its first ranked opponent in front of the home fans.  The Gators are 10-8 in this series under the direction of current head coach Billy Donovan, while the last six games in the series have been decided by single digits.  He will need to get his team focused in a quick turnaround game, as the program rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat Mississippi on the road on Thursday.  Florida is 4-2 ATS at home this season and the “over” is 5-1 in those contests.

The Gators have earned a 57-17 regular-season record against SEC West opponents since the 2000 campaign, including a 2-0 mark this season.  Florida comes into the game with all five regular starters averaging in double figures, led by junior guard Kenny Boynton’s 18.0-point average.  Offensively, the team is ranked seventh nationally and first in the SEC in averaging 81.3 points per game, while leading all of college basketball with 212 three-point makes.

Bettors will likely back the Bulldogs due to their 7-2 ATS mark on the road, while the Gators are 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings.

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