Mississippi State vs Kentucky Picks and Predictions: Bulldogs Should Cover Against Banged-Up Wildcats

With injuries flooding Kentucky's backcourt, the massive spread over visiting Mississippi State seems a lot more tenuous than it did before. If TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler miss tonight's game, we like the Bulldogs to cover in our betting picks.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2022 2:20 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Garrison Brooks Mississippi State Bulldogs NCAAB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State Bulldogs will head into Lexington on Tuesday night in hopes of picking up their first road win in conference play. Opposite of them will be the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats, who are back home after a tough road loss to the newly minted top-ranked Auburn Tigers.

Continue reading for our free college basketball betting picks and predictions for Mississippi State vs. Kentucky on Tuesday, January 25th for more.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Kentucky opened as 9.5-point favorites and has seen very small movements in both directions, but currently sits at -9.5. The total opened as high as 148 and has since moved all the way down to 141.5.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky predictions

Predictions made on 1/25/2022 at 1:35 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Mississippi State vs Kentucky game info

Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

Mississippi State at Kentucky betting preview

Injuries

Mississippi State: Tolu Smith F (Doubtful).
Kentucky: TyTy Washington Jr. G (Questionable), Sahvir Wheeler G (Questionable).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Mississippi State is 3-1 against the spread following a loss this year. The Bulldogs have also played to the Over in seven straight games.. Find more NCAA betting trends for Mississippi State vs. Kentucky.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

While the loss to Auburn on Saturday was tough as-is for the Wildcats, it came with some repercussions for this game as well. TyTy Washington (13.6 PPG, 4.4 APG) sustained an ankle injury and Sahvir Wheeler (10.8 PPG, 6.9 APG) was on the receiving end of a hard screen that he tried to play through. John Calipari will keep their statuses close to the chest but if both were to miss this game, then ball handling will have to come from elsewhere - which he has alluded to.

In theory, the total falling from 148 to 142 since opening could be the market suggesting that Washington and Wheeler will sit this one out. Furthermore, if we assume that the opening line of Kentucky -9.5 was intended to have their absences already baked in, the line not budging at all despite the large move in the total further would support that notion. And given that the two lead the team in assists and are third and fourth in true shooting percentage as well (min. 50 attempts), their absences could be troubling.

When we pivot to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, there are also some injury questions. Like Kentucky, the Bulldogs will be without their No. 2 man Tolu Smith (13.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg). The forward is now week-to-week with a knee injury but unlike Kentucky, the Bulldogs have an immediate answer for his absence with Javian Davis-Fleming. Fleming averages 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game and will run alongside Garrison Brooks (11.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) to fill out Mississippi State's interior presence.

That presence includes a 12th-ranked field goal percentage at the rim on offense and a fourth-ranked field goal percentage allowed on defense. The Bulldogs are also bringing down 11.8 offensive rebounds per game (49th), which makes for an interesting matchup against the nation's leading rebounder: Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (16.1 ppg, 14.8 rpg). However, the problem is Tshiebwe represents Kentucky's only physical tool against Mississippi State's towering big men. The only other player on the roster as tall as Tshiebwe to average 10-plus minutes per game is Jacob Toppin, who weighs a measly 194 pounds.

And all of this is without mentioning Bulldogs leading scorer Iverson Molinar (17.7 ppg), who is a silky smooth shot-creator shooting 47% on two-point jumpers. He's also a career 38% shooter from deep but has been struggling this year to find that stroke (30%). If he can begin to find that shot on Tuesday night, the dogs might be barking.

Prediction: Mississippi State +9 (-112)

Given all of the injury-related elements to this game, the total is a tough read. Tolu Smith's likely absence should make things a little easier for Kentucky on offense, but it also erases the 13.6 points he averages. On the other side, Washington's and Wheeler's potential absences obviously limit Kentucky's offensive upside given their ability to generate open looks.

However, if there's one guy Kentucky would love to handle the ball more frequently, it's Kellan Grady. Although Grady leads the team in minutes played, the fifth-year senior has made way to allow the volume to go elsewhere. Grady takes just 8.6 field goal attempts per game compared to Tshiebwe's 11.1, and Washington's 10.7, and Wheeler's 9.7. This is despite the fact that Grady possesses the Wildcats' second-best true shooting percentage (behind Tshiebwe), largely on the back of his pristine 44.2% from three.

More broadly, there's also the fact that the total has moved a whopping six points down since opening. Betting into steam that severe, and this late, is rarely a good proposition, and we'd advise doing so at this stage.

Prediction: Over 142 (-110)

The context of this matchup is admittedly messy but with all things considered, the Bulldogs likely have the edge. The size and depth advantage they have in the frontcourt creates a huge issue for Kentucky, and Mississippi State has capable scorers outside of that.

Kentucky, on the other hand, is amidst some sudden and tough injuries that have them scrambling in practice to find answers. Make no mistake, John Calipari is a more than capable coach of overcoming such challenges, but there are also bigger fish to fry in the grander scheme. Having Washington and Wheeler sit this one out in order to ensure they are fully healthy for their date on the road against No. 5 Kansas later this week could be of larger importance.

More daring bettors could go for the +360 moneyline, but we'll take the points.

Pick: Mississippi State +9 (-112)

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