Tuesday’s nightcap of First Four contests features a pair of 11-seeds when the Pittsburgh Panthers (22-11) collide with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-12). The winner will head to Greensboro, North Carolina, to face off against the sixth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64. The showdown marks the first time these two programs will take the floor against each other in the school’s history.
Tipoff is at 9:10 p.m. EST inside UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. Mississippi State is a 2.5-point favorite and the over/under total is 133 points.
What to Know – Pittsburgh Panthers
One of the last teams in the tournament, the Pitt Panthers earned their way into the Big Dance with four Quad 1 victories and one of the top teams away from home with seven road wins. Pitt is making its 27th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first under head coach Jeff Capel. The Panthers finished the regular season in a three-way tie with Duke and Clemson for third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
On offense, the Panthers ranked fifth in the ACC scoring 76.1 points per game while connecting on 45.3% shooting from the field and 36.0% from three. Pittsburgh’s defense was sixth in the conference, limiting opponents to 70.5 ppg, 42.6% shooting from the floor and 33.5% from beyond the arc.
Pittsburgh comes into the tournament with a 22-10-1 record against the spread and a 1-2-1 mark ATS in contests at neutral locations. The Panthers have excelled on Tuesday’s, sporting a 5-1 ATS in their previous six games.
What to Know -Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season winning nine of their last 13 games heading into the SEC Tournament. Mississippi State has done it with one of the top defenses in the country, holding all but five teams below 70 points this year. MSU is in the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in school history.
Mississippi State’s offense ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the conference, averaging 65.9 ppg behind 42.3% shooting from the floor and 26.6% from deep. Defensively, the Bulldogs were second in the SEC holding teams to 61.0 ppg, 39.4% shooting from the field and 30.8% from the 3-point line.
MSU wrapped up the regular season and conference tournament with a 16-16-1 record ATS and 1-5-1 ATS on a neutral floor. Mississippi State has failed to cover the spread in its last five games played in March.
The Pick is In
Mississippi State closed out the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the country and owns victories over a handful of teams in the field of 64. First-year head coach Chris Jans has a team that locks down on the defensive end and an efficient scorer in Tolu Smith, who led the SEC in field goal percentage (57%) this season.
A tough matchup between two talented teams, MSU pulls it out late to stay alive and matchup with Iowa State in the First Round.
The Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs -2.5