Arizona State Sun Devils and Mississippi State Bulldogs Set to Tip Off Season in Chicago
The Arizona State Sun Devils and Mississippi State Bulldogs are gearing up for their highly anticipated season opener on Wednesday in Chicago. While most teams are entering the season at full strength, the Bulldogs will be facing some challenges.
Tolu Smith’s Absence Poses a Challenge for Mississippi State
Tolu Smith, the standout player for the Bulldogs last season, will unfortunately be sidelined for Wednesday’s game and potentially until the start of SEC play. Smith averaged an impressive 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, making him a crucial component of Mississippi State’s offensive and defensive success.
Mississippi State’s defensive prowess was evident last season, ranking eighth overall in fewest points allowed per possession and third in the same category when playing on the road. Smith played a significant role in this achievement.
With Smith out, the Bulldogs will have to rely more heavily on their backcourt, which struggled in 3-point shooting percentage, ranking last among all Division I college basketball teams.
However, the addition of Marshall guard Andrew Taylor brings hope to Mississippi State’s outside shooting. Taylor showcased his skills last season, averaging 20.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with a 36.4% 3-point shooting percentage.
Arizona State’s Strengths and Frankie Collins’ Return
On the other side of the court, the Arizona State Sun Devils are entering the season with their assist leader, Frankie Collins, back in action. Collins contributed 9.7 points and 4.3 assists per game last season, helping the team rank 74th in turnovers per possession. In comparison, Mississippi State ranked 227th in the same category.
The Sun Devils also excelled in denying opponents clean looks at the basket, boasting the 12th-best opponent field goal shooting percentage in the nation and the second-best opponent 2-point shooting percentage in away games.
Uncertainty at the Free Throw Line for Mississippi State
If the game comes down to the wire, Mississippi State may face challenges at the free throw line. Last season, the team struggled, shooting just 62.9% at the free throw line in away games, ranking 350th in the nation.
Prediction: Sun Devils to Prevail in a Defensive Battle
Despite the addition of Andrew Taylor, the Bulldogs’ 3-point shooting remains questionable. With Tolu Smith out of the lineup, the Sun Devils are poised to capitalize on their defensive strengths and secure a victory. The game is expected to be a gritty defensive battle, with Arizona State potentially covering the spread and even winning outright.
The Play: Arizona State +4.5