The Mississippi State Bulldogs are looking to play their way off the NCAA Tournament bubble and a road win against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday would go a long way in boosting their resume.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (-2, 133) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Though Vanderbilt is coming off a road win earlier in the week against Kentucky, it came at a cost with 7-foot-0 central Liam Robbins suffering a season-ending injury in the process.
Robbins leads the team in three statistical categories with 15 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game. His blocks ranked third among qualifying Division I players and were the saving grace of a defense that ranks 254th in the country in points allowed on a per possession basis.
The Commodores have played four games without Robbins this season and went 1-3 in that stretch as the offense also took a step back, with the team exceeding 70 points in just one of those games, getting outscored by an average score of 75.25-67.5.
Even with Robbins, Vanderbilt was 249tj in the country in 3-point shooting percentage at home and now has to face a Mississippi State defense that is sixth in the nation in points allowed on a per possession basis with only Tennessee allowing fewer points per possession in road and neutral court games.
While Mississippi State is just 232nd in the country in points scored per possession on offense this season, the Robbins injury leaves Vanderbilt without a player that averages more than five rebounds per game and much of the Bulldogs offense is based around second chances with the team grabbing a rebound on 34.1% of their missed shots, which ranks 13th in the country.
With Vanderbilt having a disadvantage on the glass and on defense even with their 7-foot-0 central, the Robbins injury will prove to be too big of a hurdle for Vanderbilt to overcome on Saturday.
The Play: Mississippi State -2
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