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Michigan State vs Mississippi State Predictions, Odds & Picks (March 21)

Matt McEwan

by Matt McEwan in College Basketball

Updated Mar 20, 2024 · 12:30 PM PDT

Tom Izzo coaching the MSU Spartans during a timeout.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo talks to players at a timeout against Purdue during the second half of quarterfinal of Big Ten tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. on Friday, March 15, 2024.
  • Michigan State takes on Mississippi State in the first official game of the March Madness tournament
  • Though MSU is the #9 seed in this matchup, they are the favorites at sportsbooks
  • See my picks and predictions for #9 MSU vs #8 MSST below

March Madness is officially upon us! The first round tips-off with a 9 vs 8 matchup between Michigan State and Mississippi State at 12:15pm ET on Thursday, March 21. You can tune into this game on CBS. These two teams find themselves in the West Region of the March Madness bracket, and the winner will (very likely) earn a matchup with the #1 seed, North Carolina, on Saturday.

Let’s have a look at the odds for Michigan State vs Mississippi State and then I’ll get into how I’m betting this game:

Michigan St vs Mississippi St Odds

Team Spread Total Moneyline
(9) Michigan State -1.5 (-105) O 130.5 (-110) -120
(8) Mississippi State +1.5 (-115) U 130.5 (-110) +100

As you would expect in a matchup between the eight and nine seeds, we are seeing a pretty small spread. Michigan State is favored by 1.5 points and they’re listed at -120 odds to win the game. Based on the odds, the Spartans have a 54.6% chance of winning the game.

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If you bet $20 on MSU to win at -120, you would stand to win $16.67 and return $36.67. That same $20 bet on Mississippi State at +100 odds would potentially profit $20 and return $40.

The total is set at 130.5, which is the third-lowest among all determined first-round matchups.

The odds above are from BetMGM. 

If you already know who/what you’re betting in this matchup and just wanted to find the best price for your bet, here are the best lines for each bet at the time of writing this:

  • Best Michigan St moneyline: -113 at FanDuel
  • Best Mississippi St moneyline: +105 at Caesars
  • Best MSU spread: -1 (-112) at DraftKings
  • Best MSST spread: +1.5 (-110) at Caesars
  • Best Over: 130 (-110) at Caesars
  • Best Under: 130.5 (-107) at BetRivers

Be sure to check our college basketball odds to shop for the best current lines if you don’t read this right away.

Both MSU & MSST Enter the Tournament Riding Cold Streaks

No one is accusing either Michigan State or Mississippi State of being on any sort of hot streak. Both teams have lost five of their last seven games, but most of the Bulldogs recent losses at least came to quality opponents. Four of their losses came against top-25 ranked teams, one of which was on overtime loss to South Carolina and another was a two-point loss to Kentucky.

Michigan State, on the other hand, has three bad losses on their record from late in the season. Though two of them were decided by three points or less, they were to non-tournament teams (Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana) and two of which came at home. For the record, their other two losses in their cold streak came to Purdue.

However, sportsbooks obviously aren’t too concerned about Tom Izzo’s team heading into the tournament, as they’re not only favored to get by Mississippi State, but they also have the sixth-best odds to make the Final Four among teams in the West Region.

Michigan State vs Mississippi State Team Stats

Instead of giving you a full breakdown of every team stat available, I have only included the ones I feel are most important to this matchup.

24th NET Ranking 31st
3-9 Quadrant 1 Record 4-9
6-5 Quadrant 2 Record 4-3
18th (+20.03) KenPom AdjEM 30th (+17.98)
57th (113.8) KP Adj Off Efficiency 60th (113.7)
8th (93.7) KP Adj Def Eff 20th (95.7)
305th (65.2) KP Adj Tempo 202nd (67.1)
12th (+12.30) KP SOS 22nd (+11.15)
77th (+4.49) KP Non-Conf SOS 173rd (+0.70)
66th (35.9%) 3P% 247th (32.5%)
254th (70.6%) FT% 324th (67.2%)

I use the phrase “low & slow” for not only my grill/smoker, but also when it comes to March Madness. I’m a big fan of teams who can keep the score low with good defense and play at a slow pace, making every possession so valuable.

When looking at the stats for these two teams, they both check those boxes. However, one team just does it better than the other and has been tested more as well.

Michigan St vs Mississippi St Picks for Rd 1

If Mississippi State drew any of the other #9 seeds in this tournament, I am likely taking them to win in the first round – dependent upon the odds, of course. I actually like Miss State and the style of basketball they play, but this was maybe the worst matchup the Bulldogs could have drawn, in my opinion.

Michigan State plays better defense, shoots the ball better, and plays slower than Mississippi State. The only way the Bulldogs can overcome this, outside of MSU just having an awful day shooting, is to hit some threes and make their free throws. But they don’t do either of those things.

On top of that, this MSU team has that classic underachieving/underappreciated Izzo feel about it, which is typically the formula for a Sweet 16 run.

With these teams both playing so slow and defending so well, I’m also taking the under. The total has gone under in six of MSU’s last eight games as well as each of MSST’s last three.

Pick #1: Michigan State ML (-113) at FanDuel

Pick #2: Under 130.5 (-107) at BetRivers

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