College Basketball Predictions: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Mississippi Rebels

Vanderbilt Commodores at Mississippi Rebels
Thursday, 2/16/12, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Vanderbilt -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Vanderbilt -3.5
Opening Total:  132
Current Total:  132.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Mississippi Rebels are a dangerous home underdog on Thursday night

Vanderbilt has lost three of its last four games and will look to bounce back from a deflating 69-63 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats as 4.5-point home underdogs.  “We had several opportunities,” commented Commodores head coach Kevin Stallings.  “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”  The Commodores are the only team in the Southeastern Conference that sports three 1,000-point scorers, with the trio being led by John Jenkins.  He averages 19.5 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting.  Vanderbilt is 19-7 ATS on the road the last two-plus seasons.

The Commodores lead this all-time series, 73-39, including wins in nine out of the last 10 meetings.  Playing Vanderbilt in the opening 20 minutes might not be a bad move, as the program has trailed at the half in just two SEC games this year.  The team is currently in a third-place tie with Mississippi State in the conference standings, while sitting just a game behind second-place Florida.

Mississippi snapped a two-game losing streak in tallying a 61-54 win over the Auburn Tigers as 7.5-point home favorites, while going “under” the total for the second consecutive game.  “We defended much better in the second half, and we turned them over,” commented Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy about the performance.  He has led the program to a solid 82-16 mark in games played inside Tad Smith Coliseum during his time on the sidelines.  Mississippi is 9-11 ATS and the “under” is 12-10 on the season.

The Rebels actually lead the SEC in team rebounding and rebounding margin during league play, while ranking 38th nationally in field-goal percentage defense.  Mississippi is 50th in the nation in the latest RPI rankings, coming in with a 2-6 record against such opponents.  That mark could improve with Vanderbilt sitting at 29th this week.  This particular series has been all about location of the game over the years, with the home team prevailing in 21 of the last 25 meetings.  Much of the team’s success on the boards is due to ranking as the ninth-tallest team in the country, with Murphy Holloway leading the way in grabbing 9.2 rebounds per game.

Bettors will likely back the Rebels due to their 7-2 ATS mark as a home underdog, while the Commodores are 4-11-1 ATS as a favorite of 6.5 points or less.

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