On Tuesday night, the 17th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-1) look to avenge an upset last year to the Florida Atlantic Owls (4-5). Tip-off is scheduled for 9pm ET at the Humphrey Coliseum in Starksville, Mississippi as the Bulldogs seek a 9th straight victory.

NCAA basketball odds opened Mississippi State as a 13.5 point favorite and the total is listed at 138.5. Many NCAA basketbll betting shops have moved the line to 14.5 with the total at 138, so be sure to shop for the best lines before placing your college basketball picks.



Bost is best

North Carolina native senior guard Dee Bost has gradually improved every year since he was a freshman. Recently, Bost posted a season high 28 points in a 106-68 romp of the Troy Trojans. Being a versatile player, Bost fits in well with the Bulldogs, and to go along with his 28 point output, Bost had 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. He also shot a sizzling 7 of 13 from 3 point range.

As a team, Mississippi State shot a collective 56.3% from the field and 51.6% from 3 point range, dwarfing the Trojans who shot just 32.5% from the field. State also had a decisive 30-11 advantage in assists. They now play a similar team in Florida Atlantic, and you can expect to see more of the same from the Bulldogs.

Going the distance

As their last game proved , the Bulldogs get the most out of their starters and give them a great amount of playing time. In their last game, all 5 starters scored in double figures and each played 30 minutes except for forward Renardo Sidney who had an effective game with 18 points and 8 rebounds (7 for 9 shooting) in 22 minutes.

Center Wendell Lewis comes off the bench and gives the Bulldogs 21 minutes per game (he's started 3 games this season) and gives the starters a breather while contributing 6 points and 5 rebounds per contest. Lewis is shooting 71.1% from the field in his junior year this season.

The Bulldogs have many talented players, but they tend to rely heavily on Dee Bost and double-double machine Arnett Moultrie. Moultrie is coming off of a huge game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. On the season Moultrie 17.1 points and 11.2 rebounds on 54.7 % from the field.

This is a team that can shoot (47.8%) and average's 76.7 points per game. Look for Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie to be a major factor in Tuesday's game against the Owls.

Who gives a hoot?

This is the approach that Mississippi State will have when they host the Owls. FAU plays in a lower level conference and against inferior competition and still manage to have a losing record. Only 3 out of 12 teams in the Sun Belt Conference have a winning record, and although they upset the Bulldogs last season, Florida Atlantic doesn't provide much of a test against a top 20 team like Mississippi. I think the betting odds are kind of low but maybe the odds makers have the upset from last season fresh in their minds.

Fast paced tempo?

The Owls will look to slow this game down. They're not a bigtime offensive team, averaging 69.4 points per game and ranking 227th in the nation in shooting percentage and 141st in rebounds. Most of their games stay in the 50's -70's range (points).

FAU has had one major test in Kansas this season in where they were defeated 77-54. In that game they shot just 32.8% from the field and managed just 8 assists. Even though they're coming off their biggest win of the season, a 98-70 victory over Warner Southern, you have to take into consideration the opposition. Expect a similar performance to that of the Kansas game.

Playing well against the best

I use Kansas as the measuring stick,Mississippi St. Basketball and sophomore Pablo Bertone has proven that he can match up against the best. Bertone is 2nd on the Owls in scoring and leads a team that's 10 players deep with 5.9 rebounds per game. Against Kansas, Bertone came up big with 17 points and 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. Remember folks, Bertone is a 6 foot 4, 198 pound guard. He's battle tested and the model of consistency. Bertone must get the playing time in order for the Owls to stay in this game.

Greg Gantt was just 1 of 4 for 2 points in 15 minutes against. FAU's leading scorer Gantt at 13.9 ppg) will have to be more productive in this game if the Owls are looking to keep pace with the Bulldogs,

Outcome of the game

This is one of those "no-brainers". As I've stated, the line is too low at 14 points. Florida Atlantic University has a difficult time maintaining a .500 status against the lower level teams and when they played a top team in Kansas, they couldn't handle it. The only thing that I might possibly take into consideration is the Owls depth. Will Mississippi State get tired and will they play down to the competition as they did last season? Look for the Bulldogs to cover. They're an offensive minded multitalented team. This will be a blowout.

Mississippi State -14 is my pick in this contest