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Kentucky vs Tennessee Odds & Picks: NCAAB SEC Betting Preview

Kentucky vs Tennessee Odds & Picks: NCAAB SEC Betting Preview article feature image
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Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyreke Key (Tennessee)

Kentucky vs Tennessee Odds

Saturday, Jan. 14
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Kentucky Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+12.5
-118
130.5
-115o / -105u
+570
Tennessee Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-12.5
-104
130.5
-115o / -105u
-850
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Things aren’t just bad at Kentucky. The Wildcats aren’t just in a slump. It’s potentially the worst the situation has ever been under John Calipari. Kentucky has lost two games in a row, the first by more than 20 to Alabama and their second against a 207th ranked South Carolina team.

Even worse, they now face their rival and one of their toughest tests of the season in No. 5 ranked Tennessee.

The Volunteers are 14-2, currently riding a five-game win streak. Tennessee boast the best defense in the nation and has also been elite as of late scoring from nearly everywhere on the floor.

Which raises the question: does Kentucky stand a chance against the Volunteers? Vegas doesn’t think so, currently listing the Wildcats as a 13-point underdog.


Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky has a laundry list of problems, but let’s begin with the offense. Over their last five games, the Wildcats have slowed to one of the lowest tempos in the country. Their bench was already nonexistent and has gotten even worse without key rotation players Jacob Toppin and Cason Wallace, both potentially out for this game.

When it comes to shooting, Kentucky is hitting just 52.1% on two point shots and has tremendously fallen off when it comes to 3-point shooting, making just 32.1% from beyond the arc. At the free throw line, things haven’t been any better, as Kentucky is hitting just 63.5% from the stripe.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky is allowing teams to rack up 74 points per game. Their biggest issue has been defending on the perimeter, allowing teams to hit 40% from 3-point range over their last five games — something that the Volunteers, who are cashing in on 41.2% of 3s over their last five, should have no problem taking advantage of.

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee’s defense isn’t just the best in the country; they’re the best team when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency since KenPom began tracking it in 2001-02. The Volunteers have held teams to just 53.4 points per game while they’ve also been able to force teams into 17.3 turnovers per contest.

At the offensive end, the Volunteers are a threat from anywhere, but given Kentucky’s struggles when it comes to defensive rebounding, I expect them to shine specifically on the offensive glass. Tennessee is averaging 13 offensive rebounds per game and turning those into 13.4 second chance points.

Both Santiago Vescovi and Olivier Nkamhoua have been elite for the Vols over their last five games, putting up over 13 points, two assist and three rebounds per game for Tennessee. I struggle to see any way Kentucky can shoot their way into even keeping this one close, much less stopping this Volunteers offense.

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Kentucky vs. Tennessee Betting Pick

This Kentucky team is lost, and I really don’t see any way to fix it. A double-digit underdog is a rare place to be for the Wildcats, but I think this number is still low.

Back the Vols as high as a 15-point favorite over a Wildcats team in serious need of some direction.

Pick: Tennessee -12.5 (Play to -15)

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