Wednesday College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Arizona vs. Tennessee Betting Preview
Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images. Pictured: Bennedict Mathurin
- Tennessee is a slight favorite in a matchup of top-15 teams on Wednesday against Arizona.
- The Wildcats have some impressive wins away from home already this season entering a matchup of two elite defenses.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.
Arizona vs. Tennessee Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
The top team in NET, the Arizona Wildcats, take to the road to play the Tennessee Volunteers. These are two of the fastest and best defensive teams in college hoops.
Tennessee has dropped two games against its strongest competition — Texas Tech and Villanova — and both prevented the Vols' offense from getting going. In fact, Tennessee only scored 105 combined points against the two.
Arizona has an even more tenacious defense, so Tennessee will likely have trouble again.
Look for the Wildcats to squeeze out a tight victory on the road in this one.
Typically, home court advantage carries plenty of weight in college basketball. Arizona doesn't seem fazed by it, though.
In fact, the Wildcats traveled to Champaign, Ill., to defeat the Illini, and they destroyed Michigan in Las Vegas. Tennessee is a similar caliber team to both of these.
Arizona’s defense should be able to propel it to a victory. The Wildcats currently rank seventh in college hoops, according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.
They also force turnovers at a 21.8% clip on defense and limit opponents to a 38.8% mark inside the 3-point arc.
Tennessee ranks 138th in 3-point percentage on offense, so it predominantly looks inside in order to manufacture offensive production. The Vols do get 37.1% of their points from 3s, but they need to get hot from beyond the arc to secure a victory.
Christian Koloko is the main deterrent to opponent points on the inside. He averages 3.5 blocks per game, and he is not the only Wildcat defensive asset down low.
Both Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis average at least a block each game, as well. Tubelis being questionable for this game is concern, but the Wildcats have the defensive trees to cover for him. If he plays, this is yet another edge for Arizona inside.
They also have five players averaging at least a steal every game, so they have multiple defensive strengths.
Not only that, but the Wildcats have a productive offense with the players to overcome the strengths of the Tennessee defense. Bennedict Mathurin will be able to bolt past either Santiago Vescovi or other slower players on the wing.
He will have a significant matchup advantage, since the bigs on Arizona will gather the attention of John Fulkerson, Olivier Nkamhoua and the other taller Volunteers.
Either way, the Wildcats have too much length for the Volunteers to match up with.
Defense is Tennessee's greatest attribute. The Vols do have a more successful offense than last season, but they have only proven themselves against lesser defensive opponents — like North Carolina, which is not as tough as either Texas Tech or Villanova.
Still, they need production from their guards in order to defeat the Wildcats.
As stated above, the Volunteers bank on sinking outside shots as a massive part of their offense. Vescovi and Kennedy Chandler shoot the majority of their 3s, but they have four other players who have attempted at least 30 3-pointers this season.
They need that outside artillery to sneak past the long Arizona defense.
Tennessee is usually a dominant rebounding team, but it has yet to encounter a squad like Arizona. The Vols average 38.8 boards per game, while the Wildcats capture around 44.4 rebounds. Arizona pulls in 38.0% of its offensive boards vs. 33.9% for the Vols.
Both have similar rebounding percentages on the defensive end, so this is virtually a wash. Crashing the glass on the offensive end gives Arizona and its crop of seven-footers an enormous advantage.
In addition, the Wildcats' wings are far taller than the wings of the Vols, so they will be able to rebound better from the guard position.
Arizona vs. Tennessee Betting Pick
Arizona is possibly the best defensive team Tennessee will play this season, and the Volunteers have yet to beat a team of Arizona’s caliber.
Arizona is also one of the tallest and longest units in the NCAA, so it will have a notable edge on the glass, too.
Given Arizona’s track record against comparable tough opponents on the road, it should be able to take care of business in Knoxville on Wednesday.
Take the Arizona spread at +1.5 and play it to -1.5.