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Picks, predictions for Tennessee vs. Mississippi State on Tuesday, January 17

Tennessee faces Mississippi State for the second time this season in this SEC matchup.

Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) points after making a basket during the NCAA men’s basketball match between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Vanderbilt Commodores in Thompson-Boiling Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2022. Tennesseevsvandy0110 2455 Jamar Coach/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers travel to face the Mississippi Bulldogs on Tuesday, January 17. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET from Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, and the game will air on ESPN2.

Let’s take a look at the odds and lines on DraftKings Sportsbook and make some picks.

Tennessee vs. Mississippi State odds

Spread: Tennessee -6.5
Over/Under: 123
Moneyline: Tennessee -280, Mississippi State +235

Tennessee (14-3, 4-1 SEC) is coming off its first loss in conference play, falling to Kentucky 63-56 on Saturday. It was an underwhelming effort as the Volunteers matched their lowest-scoring output of the season, and were outrebounded 43-23 by a Kentucky team that seemed on a path of disarray for the rest of the season. Perhaps the spark they need is a round-two matchup with Mississippi State, whom Tennessee easily handled 87-53 at home earlier this season. A better performance in attacking the glass and a stout defensive performance will be key to a win Tuesday night, as the Volunteers boast the second-best scoring defense in the country (54.0 PPG allowed).

Mississippi State (12-5, 1-4 SEC) will look to snap a two-game losing skid after back-to-back losses to Georgia and Auburn, each by single digits. After winning their first 11 games this season under first-year head coach Chris Jans, the Bulldogs have arguably been brought back down to earth after a short-lived stint in the AP poll. Despite boasting the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense (57.5 PPG allowed), SEC has proven brutal for Mississippi State, with just one win over Ole Miss through five games. After a 34-point loss to the Volunteers in their SEC opener, the Bulldogs will need a sound offensive strategy to counter the nation’s second-best defense.

The Pick: Tennessee -6.5

The Volunteers are 9-8 overall versus the spread this season and just 3-5 when playing on the road, but they have seen this Bulldogs team, back when Tennessee played arguably its most complete game in the SEC opener. After a season-low 14 minutes from senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua in the loss to Kentucky, I expect him to bounce back with a more convincing performance Tuesday night, giving the Bulldogs trouble in the paint. Tennessee won eight straight following its early season loss to Colorado, and won five in a row after a 75-70 loss to Arizona on Dec. 17. Take them to bounce back accordingly and cover with a win in this one.