- Clemson opens its season on the road in Starkville, where the Tigers are 3.5-point favorites (Wednesday, 8:30 PM EST)
- Clemson’s roster is loaded with returning talent, while South Carolina has had to replace its four top players from last year
- Read below for analysis, odds, and picks for the game
When Mississippi State begins its Men’s Basketball season on Wednesday night (Nov. 25, 2020) at home against Clemson, it will feature two teams with contrasting expectations for the year.
The Tigers return nearly all of their key players from last year with the addition of three more that made up one of the program’s strongest recruiting classes in its history. Meanwhile, Bulldogs head coach Ben Howl had to get creative to find new talent to replace a significant portion of his 2019-20 roster. Clemson appears to be in better shape to hit the ground running to start the season, but the Tigers are just 3.5-point favorites.
Clemson vs Mississippi State Odds
|Clemson||-4.5 (-104)||-190||O 135.5 (-110)|
|Mississippi State||+4.5 (-118)||+160||U 135.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Nov. 24 at FanDuel
Re-Tooled Tigers Look For a Fast Start
Clemson wasn’t expected to be a major threat in the ACC last season, but they were robbed of the chance to make one last run at the top of the league after the conference tournament was canceled. The Tigers have more reason for optimism this year with many players expected to take a step forward, and more depth and young talent to buoy them.
Tevin Mack completed his grad transfer season with the Tigers last year and left a fairly big scoring hole in a middle-of-the-road offense. Mack was also the team’s best on-ball defender, but Clemson should be better prepared to fill that void than the Bulldogs are when it comes to their departed playmakers.
Aamir Simms led the team in most offensive statistical categories and leads a frontcourt that is going to want signee P.J. Hall to contribute as quickly as possible. Mississippi State has an experienced and formidable big man in Abdul Ado but, he isn’t going to match Simms’ offensive output by a long shot.
Clemson is primarily a deliberate offensive team. Even with more length and players better-suited to slash at the basket this year, the Tigers aren’t likely to change their stripes in this one. Clemson scored 60 points or fewer in seven of its eleven road games last season. On the road against a tough non-conference opponent, they don’t seem likely to run things up in this spot.
New Faces Need to Step Up for Bulldogs
So much of Mississippi State’s scoring power left the team at the end of last season, and with limited media access to practices and scrimmages, it’s still unclear how Howland will organize his rotation with so many new players.
After starting 5-3 at home, Mississippi State ripped off eight consecutive wins in Humphrey Coliseum to close out last season. In those final eight home games, the Bulldogs went 6-2 against the spread and over the point total in five of the eight. The problem is that Howland needs to find a way to replace 54.3 points per game after losing his top four scorers from their 2019-20 roster.
IVERSON MOLINAR ou RUSSELL WESTBROOK?
WOW! 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/rNtHkNLjLA
— Live Basketball BR 🏀🇧🇷 (@livebsktbr) December 14, 2019
D.J. Stewart at least figures to be the top beneficiary of the added opportunity. He was the team’s fifth-highest scorer last season and will pair up again with fellow sophomore guard Iverson Molinar in the backcourt.
The Bulldogs’ top recruit, Deivon Smith, is another smallish guard that needs to drive to score but is going up against a team that was one of the most efficient defensive teams in the country last year.
What To Play?
With so many new players on Mississippi State, the Bulldogs don’t appear likely to control the game against Clemson, which returns so much from a strong defensive team last year. The total at 135.5 seems high for both teams playing in their first game, particularly when a team that was so strong at home last year had to replace so much.
Right now, Clemson has the most experienced and cohesive roster of the two teams, and the Tigers like to muck things up.
The Pick(s): Under 135.5 (-110), Clemson Moneyline (-190)
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