Maryland vs Tennessee Odds, Picks | Why to Back the Vols

Maryland vs Tennessee Odds, Picks | Why to Back the Vols article feature image

Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Julian Phillips.

  • No. 13 Maryland takes on No. 7 Tennessee from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
  • The Terps have started year one under Kevin Willard with a bang while the Vols have impressed since their loss to Colorado.
  • Here's how Alex Hinton is betting this top-15 duel.

Maryland vs. Tennessee College Basketball Odds

Sunday, Dec. 11
4:30 p.m. ET
Maryland Odds
-110o / -110u
Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Maryland Terrapins are off to a fast start under first year head coach Kevin Willard, 8-1 and up to No. 13 in the AP Top 25. However, the Terps did suffer their first loss of the season when they fell 64-59 at Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Maryland will look to get back on track when it battles Tennessee at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday.

Tennessee will also come into this matchup at 8-1 after beating Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday. Tennessee held EKU to 22.1% shooting as it won its seventh straight game. Tennessee also has wins over Butler, USC, and Kansas this season.

This will be the fifth meeting all time between Maryland and Tennessee, but the first since 1984. The teams have split the previous meetings. This time, the teams will meet in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational, the second consecutive year Maryland has competed in the event. Can Maryland pull out a win for the second consecutive year?

Maryland Terrapins

Balanced scoring has led to Maryland's hot start, as the team has four players averaging double figures. Charlotte transfer guard Jahmir Young leads the team with 15.3 points and three assists per game. Forward Donta Scott is averaging 14.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He recently surpassed 1,000 points for his career.

Hakim Hart is averaging 12.8 points and 5.3 rebounds and is shooting 48.4% from deep — a 15% increase from last season. Forward Julian Reese is averaging 12.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He is shooting 75.9% from the field, which would rank third nationally once he has enough attempts to qualify.

Maryland is averaging 78 points per game and ranks 18th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 23rd in offensive rating. It is making 57.2% of its two-point attempts, which ranks 20th nationally.

Maryland has also defended at a high level this season. The Terps are 32nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have held opponents to 26.9% from three and 44% effective field goal percentage, ranking 21st and 27th, respectively, in both areas. Maryland is also outrebounding its opponents by 6.5 rebounds per game.

As a result of Maryland's two-way play this season, it ranks 23rd nationally in scoring margin and is outscoring opponents by 17 points per game. However, it may be in for a fight on Sunday.

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Tennessee Volunteers

Defense has been the name of the game in Knoxville over the last few seasons. After having top five defenses in each of the last two seasons, Tennessee currently leads the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Volunteers are third in turnover percentage and steals percentage, eighth in two-point percentage defense, second in effective field goal percentage, and first in three-point percentage defense.

Tennessee's defensive pressure starts with its backcourt. Point guard Zakai Zeigler, a Long Island native, is among five Volunteers averaging at least one steal per game. Zeigler ranks 10th nationally with 2.7 steals while Santiago Vescovi is 17th with 2.6 steals per game.

Five-star freshman forward Julian Phillips is leading with both 12.2 points per game and 5.7 rebounds. He has also shown a knack for getting to the free throw line with 61 attempts in his first nine career games. Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key has returned to play for his home state school and he is averaging 11.4 points on 37% shooting from three. Senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua is averaging 10.8 points and five rebounds. He is shooting 66% from the floor in his last five games.

However, Tennessee is not the most aesthetically pleasing to watch offensively. It ranks outside the top 200 in effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. It also ranks 265th in turnover percentage and averages 14.4 turnovers per game. Tennessee makes up for it by collecting 40.4% of its misses, the second best offensive rebounding rate in the country. It also moves the ball well and leads the country with assists on 71% of its made baskets.

Maryland vs. Tennessee Betting Pick

Maryland struggled with another defensive minded team on Tuesday night in Wisconsin. The Terps shot 38% and turned the ball over 14 times in the loss. I expect Tennessee to give Maryland fits as well with its stifling defense.

Tennessee has allowed more than 50 points in just two of its nine games thus far. It has also outscored its opponents by an average score of 34-23 in the first half. I expect Tennessee set the tone early in the first half and pressure Maryland into difficult shots and turnovers. The turnovers will allow Tenneseee to get easy baskets in transition before Maryland can get set defensively.

When those lines are released, I like Tennessee to win the first half and I would play the spread up to -3. However, I like the Vols to cover for the full game as well and will be backing them as short favorites.

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