Tennessee vs. Missouri College Basketball Betting Odds & Pick: Target the Total in Top-12 SEC Matchup
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Yves Pons.
- Missouri looks to continue its surprising start to the season with an upset win over No. 7 Tennessee.
- The No. 12 Tigers are in for their toughest defensive challenge of the year against a Vols team that is long and athletic.
- Because of that and both team's poor perimeter shooting, BJ Cunningham sees value on the under in this SEC clash.
Tennessee vs. Missouri Odds
|Tennessee Odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Missouri Odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-178 / +150 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||133.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET|
The No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers open up SEC play on the road on Wednesday against the No. 12 Missouri Tigers.
Tennessee was projected as one of the favorites to win the SEC this season along with Kentucky. However, with the Wildcats’ 1-6 start, the conference looks to be there for the Vols to win.
Tennessee has started the season 6-0, passing its two biggest tests against Colorado and Cincinnati with two defensive clinics. Head coach Rick Barnes not only has the best defensive team in the SEC but one of the best defensive teams in the country.
However, this is the Vols’ first true road test of the season, so will the Volunteers be up to the task?
Missouri was projected to finish in the bottom half of the SEC by almost every media publication. However, the Tigers have completely flipped the script, starting out the season undefeated with impressive wins over Oregon and Illinois.
Still, Missouri’s toughest win came last weekend when it escaped with a one-point home win over Bradley in one of the craziest endings of the college basketball season. The Tigers have passed every test up to this point, but the Volunteers will be their toughest.
When Tennessee has the ball
For Tennessee, it’s pretty simple on offense: get the ball inside. Yves Pons and John Fulkerson are the Volunteers’ two best players and are two of the best frontcourt players in the SEC. Fulkerson is one of the most versatile big men in the country, and the offense runs through him given how good he is off the dribble and passing from the post.
In the backcourt, Tennessee brings back two experienced players from last season, but the real game-changer is Jordan Springer. Springer was a McDonald’s All-American and a top-20 recruit out of high school, and he has essentially taken the reins at the point guard position.
The biggest problem for Tennessee on offense is they lack consistent 3-point shooting. The Volunteers aren’t shooting a very high percentage from inside the arc (52.1%), so the lack of a consistent game on the perimeter could be what holds them back come March.
Missouri’s success this season has come from its defense, which ranks 27th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Tigers have excelled in one area, and that is defending their opponent’s 3-points shot, allowing just 24.1% to start the season.
However, Tennessee’s offense has one of the lowest 3-point rates in the country. Missouri is going to have to excel in areas that it has been average in to start the season — like defensive rebounding and turnovers — if it wants to pull off another upset.
When Missouri has the ball
One of the main reasons Missouri is undefeated right now is because it’s one of the most experienced teams in the country. Head coach Cuonzo Martin returned his entire starting five from last season and has the Tigers making massive improvements from last season on offense.
Missouri has jumped almost 100 spots in the offensive efficiency rating from last season and is doing it from inside the arc and at the free-throw line. Missouri ranks inside the top 50 in the country in 2-point field goal percentage and free-throw percentage, but it struggles mightily from beyond the arc.
The Tigers are shooting a dismal 28.4% from 3-point range to begin the season, and that’s the reason their offense struggled last year. Either Missouri needs to improve or completely go away from shooting the 3-ball if it wants to be successful on offense.
Tennessee is one of the best defenses in the country because it is fundamentally sound and has no weaknesses. The Vols are the No. 3 team in the country in terms of defensive efficiency and are in the top 25 in pretty much every advanced metric out there.
Pons is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and is a maniac on the defense. At 6-foot-6, he can guard every position on the floor and take away the opponent’s go-to scoring threat.
Tennessee should be able to dominate Missouri’s offense because the Tigers haven’t seen a defense like what they are about to on Wednesday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Both teams play a slower pace than the national average (Tennessee is 307th and Missouri 218th in tempo), so I think points are going to be hard to come by in this game.
Both teams are also terrible from beyond the arc, so with a majority of shots coming from inside the arc, that should trend toward a low-scoring affair.
I have the total projected at 129.77, so I think there’s some value on the under at 133.5 points.
Pick: Under 133.5 (down to 133).