NCAAB Odds, Picks & Prediction for Arkansas vs Tennessee
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Smith Jr. & Ricky Council IV (Arkansas)
Arkansas vs Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
On Saturday, Arkansas lost to No. 2 Alabama, 86-83, in Tuscaloosa. However, it did cover as an 8.5-point underdog.
The Razorbacks fell to 19-10 overall and 8-8 in the SEC. They are projected as an eight seed in the NCAA tournament.
On Tuesday, Arkansas will have another tough road assignment as it heads to Knoxville to battle the No. 12 Tennessee Volunteers.
Tennessee began this month ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll, but it went on to lose four of its next six games.
On Saturday, it took out some frustrations, with a 85-45 thumping of South Carolina.
The Volunteers are 21-8 and 10-6 in the SEC.
Since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1991, Tennessee leads the series 23-19. Nine of the last 14 meetings have been in Knoxville, and Tennessee holds a 15-4 edge at home in this series.
This time, the Vols are a seven-point favorite, but is that too many points?
Arkansas has been waiting to get its star freshman Nick Smith Jr. back on the floor, as he battled a knee injury all season.
Last week, the future lottery pick showed why. In two games against Georgia and Alabama, he averaged 25 points and 3.5 rebounds. For his efforts, he was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
Smith Jr. can create his own shot off the bounce, but he also adds much-needed perimeter shooting to an Arkansas team that hits 32% from 3.
He knocked down seven 3s on 11 attempts in the two games last week.
Since Smith Jr. has returned, head coach Eric Musselman has brought guard Ricky Council IV off the bench.
Council IV ranks third in the SEC in scoring at 16.8 points per game. He has scored 20 points in two of his last three games.
Add a stat-sheet stuffer like freshman Anthony Black (12 points, five rebounds, 4.3 assists and two steals per game), and suddenly Arkansas looks very potent on offense. It is averaging 88 points per game in its last three games.
That is a dangerous combination when paired with Arkansas’ defense. It ranks 11th nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
The Razorbacks rank in the top 20 in effective field goal percentage defense, 2-point percentage defense and block percentage. They also rank 27th in steals percentage.
Opponents are shooting 31.2% from 3 against Arkansas, which is 48th nationally. However, Arkansas excels at preventing 3s altogether. It ranks 16th nationally 3-point attempts allowed (17.1) and ninth in 3s allowed (5.3).
Against Alabama, Arkansas saw a 12-game streak of shooting at least 44% from the field end when it shot 41.4% against the Crimson Tide.
Against Tennessee, it may be difficult to start a new streak. Tennessee is first nationally in both Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and defensive rating.
The Volunteers are also second nationally in field goal percentage defense (35.9%), first in effective field goal percentage (41%) and first in 3-point percentage defense (24%).
They are also 16th nationally in turnover percentage and 13th in steal percentage. Guards Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi lead the team with two steals per game.
The offensive end is where the Vols can get in trouble. They rank 62nd in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and average 71.8 points per game, which is 180th nationally.
Tennessee has scored 80 or more points in just four of 16 conference games, two of which came against South Carolina.
In February, it is averaging just 65 points per game.
Tennessee ranks 224th in effective goal percentage and 264th in 3-point percentage. However, it ranks fifth in offensive rebounding percentage.
Tennessee gets two-thirds of its offense from 2-point field goals and free throws.
Arkansas vs. Tennessee Betting Pick
With two high-level defensive teams sharing the floor, my first look was to the under.
However, given Arkansas’ tempo and recent offensive output, 134 seems a bit low. If a defensive struggle does break out, then points will become more valuable, which leads to a look towards the underdog.
Arkansas has the better offense in this matchup. While it is not the best in the nation defensively — like Tennessee — it is elite in its own right.
The question will be how the Razorbacks’ young guards will fare handling Tennessee’s pressure. If Arkansas can keep its turnovers to a minimum, I like its chances of covering the spread, and it will have a chance to win outright, as well.
Additionally, Arkansas is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games against teams with a winning record.
Conversely, Tennessee is 1-5 ATS in its last six games against a team with a winning record.
Getting over two possessions, I have to back the Hogs in what I expect to be a tight battle.
Pick: Arkansas +7
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