College Basketball Odds & Picks for Auburn vs. Tennessee: Bet on the Total
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Bruce Pearl.
Auburn vs. Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
All four of the best teams in the SEC will face off against another on Saturday. While Kentucky and Arkansas might the slightly bigger marquee matchup, given the Razorbacks’ recent form and the Wildcats’ brand name, Auburn is still looking for consistent play on the road in the league this season and has struggled to find it.
Saturday is a chance for a statement road victory that’s currently a bit lacking from the Tigers’ resumé following consecutive defeats to Arkansas and Florida the last two weeks.
Sure, the Tigers are rolling at home and have won nearly every game there this season, but a couple more losses and the Tigers might not have that 1-seed locked up after all.
For Tennessee, it’s been two steps forward and one step back for the offense. Five straight dominant wins suggested that the offense was finally starting to turn the corner, especially with the win against Kentucky and a nine-point road triumph at Mississippi State. But Tennessee’s offense disappeared yet again last Saturday at Arkansas when the Vols managed just 48 points.
The Volunteers bounced back with a victory on the road in Missouri and now put their perfect home record on the line. Tennessee is 14-0 at home this season and has won every game by at least four points and all but three by double digits.
Auburn’s road resumé is pretty underwhelming given that the calendar is about to turn to March. The Tigers barely snuck by both Missouri and Georgia on the road in the final minute of the game. They lost at Arkansas and Florida in their last two road trips and also struggled at South Florida, Saint Louis and Alabama earlier this season.
They have two more road trips left in the 2021-22 campaign and need to win just one of them (and beat South Carolina at home) to win the SEC regular-season title and clinch the top seed in the SEC tournament that starts in two weeks.
Auburn’s front court is as good as any in the country, but the backcourt has underwhelmed recently with its efficiency and shot selection. Wendell Green and KD Johnson especially have struggled offensively in the Tigers’ last two road losses. The Tigers rank just 10th in 3-point shooting in the conference and have been very streaky offensively.
Generally, I think the Auburn offense matches up pretty well with the Tennessee defense that is much worse in transition defense than it’s been in the halfcourt. The Tigers play at the second fastest tempo in the entire country, and while Tennessee’s defense is elite in the halfcourt, it is significantly worse in transition.
The Volunteers rank just 228th in defensive transition ShotQuality, and Tennessee can have some issues guarding the rim where it ranks just 64th defensively. Auburn can also dominate the offensive glass and get good second-chance looks against a mediocre defensive rebounding team.
Tennessee’s defense is elite at turning over opponents and running out in transition off of those turnovers. The halfcourt offense is still prone to potential slumps and scoring droughts, as it had in the defeat on the road at Arkansas last weekend. The offense usually goes as Kennedy Chandler and Zakai Zeigler go offensively, its two live-wire, ball-dominant guards.
Similar to Tennessee, the Auburn defense is significantly better in the halfcourt than it is in transition. The Tigers are outside the top 100 at guarding those transition sequences, which will further incentivize the Vols to push the pace when given the opportunity off of long rebounds and turnovers.
The Volunteers bring their elite defense with them everywhere they go, and they should be able to keep Auburn’s guards in check, but I’m not sure how they match up with Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler. Tennessee’s perimeter defense is better than it is at the rim and it struggles to grab defensive rebounds because of how aggressive the defense hunts for turnovers.
Kessler could dominate this game through second-chance looks, and Smith will be the best player on the floor, capable of carrying the Tigers offense past the Vols’ elite defense at any time.
It’s very hard to get good looks at the rim on Auburn, but Tennessee’s offense generates pretty good perimeter looks, and that should help it keep up with the Tigers offensively.
Auburn vs. Tennessee Betting Pick
This would have been a good Tennessee spot at home given how dominant it’s been at home and how shaky the Tigers have been away from home. But the number is pricing in the home/away splits pretty clearly, and I can’t get to the 3.5-point spread favoring the Vols at home. That suggests these two teams are even on a neutral court, which isn’t true in my view or any predictive metrics’ numbers.
Both teams have been a bit fortunate based on ShotQuality record and close game record as well. But in this case, I think the offenses both have reason to push the pace in transition and avoid the excellent halfcourt defenses. Both offenses have statistical advantages running the floor, both are comfortable playing at a lightning fast tempo, and neither point guard needs any encouraging to run the floor.
Auburn should benefit from plenty of second-chance looks, while Tennessee avoids the strength of the Auburn defense inside and generates open 3s for its above-average shooting unit from 3.
All of that suggests there will be plenty of points in Knoxville on Saturday, and I’d play the over at 141 or better.