Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Prediction, Odds and Key Players for SEC Tournament Quarterfinal (Back the Vols)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bet for Mississippi State-Tennessee. 

Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht (3) makes a face after missing a basket at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht (3) makes a face after missing a basket at Thompson-Boling Arena. / Hannah Mattix/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

Tennessee is projected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. They’ll need a second SEC Tournament title in the last three years to make sure that happens. The top-seeded Volunteers are coming off a home loss to Kentucky in the regular-season finale. Can they bounce back as a double-digit favorite in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals Friday against Mississippi State? 

No. 9 Mississippi State appears to be headed to March Madness after opening the SEC Tournament with a 70-60 first-round win over LSU on Thursday. The Bulldogs have not been great as an underdog this season. Can they hang within the big number in Nashville? Here’s the betting breakdown of the matchup with a best bet. 

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Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Odds, Spread and Total

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Betting Trends

  • Mississippi State is 15-16-1 ATS this season
  • Tennessee is 16-14-1 ATS this season
  • Mississippi State is 2-6 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Tennessee is 14-11-1 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 16-16 in Mississippi State games this season
  • The OVER is 16-15 in Tennessee games this season

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee How to Watch

  • Date: Friday, March 15 
  • Game time: 1 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Bridgestone Arena
  • How to watch (TV): ESPN
  • Mississippi State record: 20-12
  • Tennessee record: 24-7

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Key Players to Watch

Mississippi State

Josh Hubbard: Mississippi State’s leading scorer, Hubbard averages 17 points per game and has put up 20-plus in six consecutive contests, which includes a pair of 30-point performances. Hubbard scored 25 points in Mississippi State’s 77-72 win over Tennessee on Jan. 10. 


Dalton Knecht: Knecht has the scoring ability to stamp his name in March Madness lore if he can lead the Volunteers on a deep postseason run. Knecht averages 21.4 points per game and has hit five-plus 3-pointers in three of the last four games. He poured in 40 points on 14 field goals in Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky on Saturday. 

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee Prediction and Pick 

Since losing on the road to Mississippi State in January, Tennessee has gone 13-3. In that matchup, Mississippi State survived 18 turnovers and eight missed free throws, shooting 50% from the field to survive a Tennessee comeback attempt. 

It’s difficult to see Mississippi State duplicating that offensive performance without the home-court advantage. Tennessee, the No. 3 overall defense in KenPom, is No. 5 in effective field goal percentage and should stymie a one-dimensional Mississippi State offense. The Bulldogs are No. 237 in the nation in 3-point shooting and No. 68 from inside the arc. Tennessee defends better from 2-point range (No. 7) and should see plenty of transition opportunities against a Bulldogs’ offense that is No. 283 in turnover percentage.

Offensively, Tennessee can score with anyone, putting up 80.2 points per game. Again, Tennessee can take advantage of the closer the ball gets to the hoop. Mississippi State is No. 13 in the SEC against 2-point shots and the Volunteers are top-5 in the conference in shooting from both inside and beyond the arc. With the revenge factor in mind and fresh legs after a first-round bye, lay the points with Tennessee against a Mississippi State club that is 2-6 ATS as an underdog this year.

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.