Tennessee vs. Colorado College Basketball Odds & Picks: Favored Vols Have Edge Over Buffs

Tennessee vs. Colorado College Basketball Odds & Picks: Favored Vols Have Edge Over Buffs article feature image

Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured: Kennedy Chandler

  • Tennessee is favored over Colorado in an intriguing matchup on Saturday.
  • While the Vols backcourt powers their attack, the Buffaloes rely heavily on their interior.
  • Alex Hinton breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.

Tennessee vs. Colorado Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
Colorado Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Tennessee Volunteers head west to battle the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon. The No. 13 Volunteers enter this matchup at 5-1 after a 86-44 win over Presbyterian. Tennessee has won all of its games against mid-major opponents by double digits. It also has a win over North Carolina.

Colorado comes in at 6-2 and is fresh off its first dose of Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes beat Stanford 80-76 last Sunday before falling to UCLA 73-61 on Wednesday.

Tennessee has won the previous three matchups in this series. Last year, the Vols took the first end of the home-and-home 56-47 in Knoxville. For Tennessee, this will be its first non-conference road game since January of 2020. Will the Vols be up to the task in Boulder?

Tennessee Has Talented Backcourt

Tennessee has been led by its backcourt this season. Five-star freshman Kennedy Chandler is averaging 14.3 points, 5.2 assists and 2.7 steals while shooting 50% from deep. Santiago Vescovi is averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Freshman Zakai Zeigler is contributing 7.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals off the bench.

While undersized (each is 6-foot-3 or shorter), head coach Rick Barnes has played Chandler, Vescovi and Zeigler together at times and had success. However, the Vols may be getting Josiah-Jordan James back soon. James has missed the last three games with a torn ligament in his left hand. While not a big scorer himself, James is a team leader and a long and versatile defender.

John Fulkerson and Olivier Nkamhoua anchor the interior for the Vols. Fulkerson is averaging 8.2 points and six rebounds on 61% shooting from the field. Nkahmoua is averaging 10.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and he can also stretch the floor from deep.

As a team, Tennessee is shooting nearly 38% from deep. Chandler and Justin Powell are at 50% or higher while Vescovi is the team leader in attempts. However, Tennessee has struggled defending the three, allowing its opponents to hit at a 36% rate. Overall, the Vols have been stingy on defense. Tennessee is 12th adjusted defensive efficiency and forcing 17 turnovers per game- 10.5 of them off steals.

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Buffaloes Will Try To Win Inside

While Tennessee is backcourt-driven, Colorado is led by its frontcourt. Forward Jabari Walker is averaging 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds and Evan Battey is averaging 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds. Both are capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter, though Battey is more efficient. Guard Keeshawn Barthelemy is averaging 13 points while shooting 45.8% from deep.

However, as a team Colorado does not take many threes. It is 331st at 16.5 three point attempts per game, hitting at a 33% clip. The Buffaloes shot 30% from three in its first two conference games. Colorado prefers doing its damage from the free throw line. It draws the fifth-most fouls (21.9) in the country and attempts the sixth-most free throws (25) — hitting at a 72% clip.

Defense has not been a strong suit for the Buffaloes so far this year. They are 91st in adjusted defensive efficiency and 202nd in points allowed. Colorado has allowed 70 points in five of its first eight games despite ranking 271st in adjusted tempo. Additionally, Colorado is not a very disruptive team. It ranks 253rd in steals (5.9) and 146th in blocks (3.5).

Tennessee vs. Colorado Betting Pick

While both teams enter with similar records, Colorado has been less impressive. Colorado needed overtime to beat Montana State and Duquesne, and narrowly escaped with two- and four-point wins against Brown and Stanford, respectively. All of Tennessee's wins are by double-digits so far. While the Volunteers lost to Villanova to by 18, Colorado is not Villanova.

Colorado may be at home but Tennessee is the better team. I expect Tennessee to have no trouble scoring against Colorado. Chandler and Vescovi are playing at a high level while Fulkerson and Nkamhoua can match Walker and Battey for Colorado.

Tennessee's defensive pressure will cause Colorado issues as well. The Buffaloes average 12.4 assists to 12.5 turnovers. Tennessee also commits just 13.7 fouls per game, 16th fewest in the country. If Tennessee maintains its discipline, it will keep Colorado from getting to the line.

I like the Vols as a short favorite and I would play it up to -6.

Pick: Tennessee -4.5 (Play to -6)

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