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Odds & Pick for South Carolina vs. Tennessee College Basketball: Can Volunteers Cover Double-Digit Spread?

Odds & Pick for South Carolina vs. Tennessee College Basketball: Can Volunteers Cover Double-Digit Spread? article feature image

Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josiah-Jordan James (left) and Rick Barnes (right).

  • South Carolina and Tennessee meet for an SEC matchup on Wednesday night after Tuesday's originally scheduled game was postponed.
  • Will the Volunteers be able to cover this line to secure a key conference victory at home?
  • Mike Randle breaks down the matchup and shares his betting pick below.

Editors Note: This game guide was published in advance of South Carolina’s and Tennessee’s scheduled matchup on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET. That game has subsequently been postponed to Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET. The betting analysis herein may be subject to update contingent on the betting market’s response to this 24-hour postponement.

South Carolina vs. Tennessee Odds

South Carolina Odds
Tennessee Odds
+410 / -550
Time | TV
Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET | SEC Network
Odds as of Monday night and via BetMGM.

Tennessee has struggled to gain consistency throughout the season, alternating big wins with head-scratching losses.

After an early-season home loss to Alabama, the Volunteers reeled off three straight wins before suffering consecutive defeats at Florida and home to Missouri. The Volunteers have suffered additional road defeats at Mississippi and LSU to drop them to fifth place in the SEC at just 7-5.

South Carolina suffered a month-long COVID-19 pause in December, disrupting its entire season. The Gamecocks are now on a three-game losing streak and head to Knoxville with injuries to two starters.

Can the Volunteers cover a big double-digit line at home, or can Frank Martin get his Gamecocks to rise to the occasion against a superior opponent?

The Matchup

South Carolina will enter this game short-handed, potentially down two starters. Sophomore Jermaine Couisnard (9.7 PPG) left the last game with an ankle injury and did not return. Junior Justin Minaya (8.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG) left with a head injury in the last minute of play. The status of both players is unknown, making a road game at Tennessee even more challenging.

The Gamecocks rely heavily on juniors AJ Lawson (17.9 PPG) and Keyshawn Bryant (14.1 PPG) for most of their offense. Aside from Couisnard and Minaya, the rest of the roster consists of role players who average about five points per game.

Head coach Frank Martin has done a great job preparing his team against superior opponents. The Gamecocks have provided strong performances, and covered the spread at LSU, at Florida and home against Alabama.

Martin’s foundational belief in pressure defense has guided South Carolina to the highest defensive turnover rate in SEC play. It ranks directly ahead of Tennessee and has forced 20 or more turnovers in each of its past three games.

While the Gamecocks have below-average offensive metrics, they have remained competitive with offensive rebounding. South Carolina is also first in conference play in offensive rebounding percentage, led by Minaya’s 2.93 offensive boards per game.

The struggles come from the field, where South Carolina shoots just 31.3% from 3 and 48.5% from 2 among SEC competition. The Gamecocks are a poor free-throw shooting team as well, ranking 319th in the country at 65.1%.

Tennessee struggles on offense but is elite defensively. It ranks third overall in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom, holding opponents to under 30% from 3-point range and just 46.4% from inside the arc.

With the exception of their last win against Georgia (a game they led 44-26 at halftime), the Volunteers held their prior three opponents to 61 points or less at Thompson-Boling Arena. If Couisnard, Minaya, or both cannot play in this game, South Carolina is unlikely to break that 60-point plateau.

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Tennessee is led by freshman Jaden Springer (12.2 PPG). The 6-foot-4 guard has exploded the last three games, averaging 24.7 PPG against Kentucky, Georgia, and LSU. The Volunteers are 10-1 this season when Springer scores in double-digits. Keon Johnson (10.1 PPG), John Fulkerson (9.7 PPG) and Victor Bailey Jr. (9.6 PPG) round out a balanced scoring attack.

The floor general of the Volunteers’ attack is sophomore Santiago Vescovi (9.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 39.6% 3P). He has helped solidify the Tennessee scoring attack with 16 PPG over the past two contests.

Tennessee’s length and versatility will disrupt the South Carolina attack. Yves Pons, Springer and sophomore Josiah-Jordan James all average more than 1.2 steals per game. Pons and James also average more than 1.1 blocks per game.

Coming off a bad 78-65 loss at LSU, I expect the Volunteers’ best effort at home against an inferior opponent.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I’m assuming Couisnard is out and will lay the 10 points with Tennessee.  If Minaya is also ruled out, the Gamecocks will be severely short-handed.

Look for South Carolina to slow this game to a crawl, hoping to limit possessions and increase offensive variance. With Tennessee’s suffocating defense, the Volunteers will be very comfortable at that pace.

With Vescovi’s increasing offense, Springer and Johnson’s versatility, and the length of Pons and James, this should be a dominant Tennessee win at home. Head coach Rick Barnes will have his team motivated after the loss in Baton Rouge, and should jump on the Gamecocks early.

I can’t see South Carolina scoring consistently without Couisnard and possibly Minaya, and Pons’ superior defense will handcuff Lawson.

Back the Volunteers to cover the big line for a critical SEC home victory. I’m also betting the under on a game total that should rise closer to tipoff.

Pick: Tennessee -10 (up to -11). | Under 141.5 (down to 141).

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