Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks: How to Bet Tennessee vs. Kentucky, Auburn vs. LSU

Credit:

Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrese Maxey (3) of the Kentucky Wildcats.

  • College basketball season really heats up on Saturday, with marquee games across the country from noon to midnight ET.
  • Mike Randle likes both Kentucky vs. Tennessee and Auburn vs. LSU.
  • Check out his picks on those games, plus live odds, below.

With a scintillating Saturday of college basketball on the horizon, there’s a plethora of great matchups to enjoy.

My choice? The SEC.

First, we travel to Tennessee to see if the Volunteers can save their slim NCAA Tournament hopes with a win over arch-rival Kentucky. Next, we head to Auburn where Bruce Pearl’s will try to give conference-leading LSU their second loss after the Tigers suffered a brutal upset at Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Let’s examine these two fantastic matchups.

Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks


College basketball odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


LSU at Auburn

  • Spread: Auburn -5.5
  • Over/Under: 154
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

No. 11 Auburn (20-2) enters this game tied with Kentucky, just one game behind LSU in the SEC standings. The Tigers are on a five-game winning streak, with overtime wins on the road at Mississippi and Arkansas. However, they are only 11-11 against the spread including just 4-5 in their last nine home games.

No. 18 LSU (17-5) saw its 10-game winning streak snapped with a 99-90 loss at Vanderbilt. The Tigers are only 10-11-1 against the spread but a respectable 2-2-1 in their last five road games.

The Tigers’ loss at Vanderbilt was improbable for a few reasons.

The Commodores entered the game shooting below 25% from 3P, yet shot a blistering 40% (12 of 30) from beyond the arc. It was simply “one of those games.”

The strong interior play of LSU will provide the biggest frontline challenge for Auburn this season. The forward trio of Emmitt Williams, Trendon Watford, and Darius Days all average over seven rebounds per game.

The Tigers also are superb from the free-throw line, an essential part of covering tough conference road games.  LSU ranks 25th in free-throw shooting at 76.8% on the season and is even better (78.1%) in conference play.

Auburn has escaped several close games, despite ranking 284th in 3P% and just 271st from the charity stripe. They struggled at home throughout the year, failing to cover against N.C. State, Vanderbilt, and Iowa State. All of those teams are among the worst in the nation in rebounding.

Auburn is coming off a double-overtime win at Mississippi, a win over Kentucky, and an overtime win at Arkansas. This could be a tired team facing an angry LSU squad that suffered an embarrassing loss.  I’m taking the points with LSU at Auburn, in a game that should be decided by one possession late.

Pick: LSU +5.5

Kentucky at Tennessee

  • Spread: Kentucky -2
  • Over/Under: 131.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

Tennessee (13-9 has been able to tread water in the SEC, currently at 5-4 in the conference and in a four-way tie for fifth place.  The Volunteers are coming off a nice 69-68 upset win at Alabama, which stopped a three-game conference losing streak. They are just 10-12 against the spread including 1-7 in their last eight home games.

No. 15 Kentucky (17-5) is tied with Auburn in second-place in the SEC, just one game behind LSU. The Wildcats are 5-1 over their past six games, with impressive road wins at Texas Tech and Arkansas. They are just 10-12 ATS, but 3-2 in SEC road games.

The Vols’ season changed after they lost senior Lamonte Turner (12.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) for the season to shoulder surgery. Tennessee has a 5-6 record since that point, while being held under 50 points four times. The one strength that has remained for Tennessee has been its interior defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 44.2% from inside the arc (11th nationally).

However, their offensive metrics have suffered. In SEC play, the Volunteers rank 11th in the league in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th in offensive turnover percentage. In short, they are not efficient and give their opponents extra chances at an alarming rate.

Kentucky, meanwhile, has seen a huge increase in 3P efficiency in conference play. The Wildcats have improved their accuracy from beyond the arc to 34.2% against SEC competition, good for third among conference teams.

Sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley (14.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg) has scored 20 or more points in three of the past four games, while improving his accuracy from deep to 38.5%.

The Wildcats biggest advantage will be on the boards, against a Tennessee team that ranks dead-last among SEC teams in defensive rebounding percentage. Junior 6-foot-11 forward Nick Richards (14.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) has been a monster inside with three double-doubles in their past four games.

Tennessee will not even be the best defensive team in this game, as Kentucky ranks first in conference play in adjusted defensive efficiency and 2P% allowed.

The Volunteers own a current four-game win streak against the Wildcats in Knoxville, but this current Tennessee team is the least talented by far of those teams that have owned Kentucky at home.

I’m going with the Wildcats, who have started their annual push towards an SEC title under head coach John Calipari. I am giving the small number and expect Kentucky to end that four-game losing streak at Thompson-Boling Arena.

THE PICK:  Kentucky -2

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