NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks, Trends: (12) Liberty Flames vs. (5) Mississippi State Bulldogs

(12) Liberty vs. (5) Miss. State

Time: FRI, 6:30 PM CT (Tru TV)

Spread: MIST -6.5

Total: 134

Odds c/o 5dimes

Mississippi State finished 23-10 with a 10-8 record in SEC play. It draws #12 Liberty in the opening round, but the Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites in opening round action. The over/under is set at 134 points according to NCAA basketball oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will tip off at 6:30 PM CT Friday on Tru TV.


The Bulldogs are about an average defensive team, holding opponents to 70.1 per game while averaging 77.3 points on the offensive end. Mississippi State ended its season by losing three of its final five, with two of those losses coming to Tennessee. It defeated Texas A&M in back-to-back games and also lost 75-80 to Auburn. Mississippi State posted a 1-5 record this season against top-25 teams, with its lone victory over an AP-ranked opponent a 92-84 victory over then-No. 16 Auburn.

Mississippi State is led by Quinndary Weatherspoon’s 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter average 11.7 and 10.5 points per game, respectively, and the Bulldogs top-three offensive weapons all shot 37 percent or better from three. Mississippi State shoots 37.8 percent from behind the arc as a team and it attempted 796 threes on the season. Peters led the team in threes attempted (215) and made (82), and he easily could get it going and have a big game along with Weatherspoon as the Bulldogs gear up for a deep tournament run. Liberty is one of the lesser-likely 12 seeds to put a scare into this Bulldogs team.


Liberty finished 28-6 this season with a 14-2 mark in conference play. It ended its season with five straight wins and a conference title to earn its bid into the NCAA tournament. Liberty is an outstanding defensive team, ranking No. 5 in the nation in points allowed (60.8) but it also plays a really weak schedule (obviously). The Flames did not face a ranked opponent all season, and it also went just 1-3 against big conference opponents, with its lone big win a triumph over UCLA.

The Flames do not create a ton of turnovers despite its top-flight defense, but it also does not commit many either. Liberty averaged just 11 per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line. Scottie James, Caleb Homesley, and Lovell Cabbil Jr. all averaged double figures for the Flames this season, and James also led the team in rebounding at 8.8 per game. When James has a double-double Liberty has fared 6-2 this season.

ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):

  • Flames are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
  • Flames are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Friday games.
  • Flames are 5-16 ATS in their last 21 neutral site games.
  • Flames are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
Mississippi State
  • Bulldogs are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 Friday games.
  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
  • Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • Bulldogs are 35-16-1 ATS in their last 52 games following a ATS loss.
  • Bulldogs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.

OU TRENDS (C/o Covers):

  • Under is 7-1 in Flames last 8 games following a ATS win.
  • Under is 4-1 in Flames last 5 non-conference games.
  • Under is 4-1 in Flames last 5 Friday games.
  • Under is 7-2 in Flames last 9 neutral site games.
  • Under is 11-4-1 in Flames last 16 games following a straight up win.
Mississippi State
  • Under is 6-2 in Bulldogs last 8 neutral site games.
  • Under is 8-3 in Bulldogs last 11 overall.
  • Over is 5-2 in Bulldogs last 7 NCAA Tournament games.
  • Under is 9-4 in Bulldogs last 13 Friday games.
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