South Carolina vs Tennessee Odds, Pick for Tuesday

South Carolina vs Tennessee Odds, Pick for Tuesday article feature image

David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: South Carolina’s Meechie Johnson.

South Carolina vs Tennessee Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 30
6:30 p.m. ET
SEC Network
South Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

Tuesday night brings a key battle in the SEC when South Carolina takes on Tennessee.

The visitor, South Carolina, has upended tepid preseason expectations and surged to a 17-3 start to the season. The host Volunteers have found greater offensive punch via transfer Dalton Knecht and are in the national title mix.

This matchup has major implications for both squads.

South Carolina could climb the NCAA Tournament S-Curve with a win; Bracket Matrix currently slots the Gamecocks as a 9-seed. Additionally, the Gamecocks are currently the first team out of the AP Top 25. Though nothing tangible is gained from being ranked, it signifies a rise in the collective college basketball consciousness.

Tennessee, meanwhile, is still very much in the hunt for a 1-seed in the Big Dance and the SEC title. The Vols are a half-game back of Alabama atop the league standings, and they must keep pace with the scorching Tide.

So, where does the betting value lie in the SEC showdown?

Check out our College Basketball Betting Hub for more NCAAB previews, predictions, news and analysis.

South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks’ low expectations derived partially from a shaky 2022-23 season (11-21 overall, 4-14 in the SEC) and some uncertainty around their transfer class. South Carolina added B.J. Mack from Wofford (8-10 in the SoCon) and Ta’Lon Cooper from Minnesota (2-17 in the Big Ten); those did not seem like needle-movers at the power conference level.

However, terrific coaching has helped the sum become greater than the value of the individual parts. A former assistant at Wisconsin under Bo Ryan, South Carolina boss Lamont Paris has found success with a similarly structured team.

The Gamecocks thrive offensively via patience, crisp execution and a healthy dose of shooting. Defensively, they're highly disciplined and funnel opponents into the midrange.

Mack and Cooper have thrived in the Gamecocks’ half-court attack, and former Ohio State guard Meechie Johnson has blossomed into a star.

Wings Jacobi Wright, Myles Stute and Zachary Davis have proven to be useful connectors. And freshman Collin Murray-Boyles has looked like a budding all-conference beast since fully recovering from a season-opening bout with mononucleosis.

South Carolina ranks top-50 nationally in both 3-point attempt rate and assist rate, per KenPom. Its spacing and ball movement is difficult to defend, especially with the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Mack inverting the floor.

The Gamecocks defense forces 2-point jumpers at the 12th-highest rate in the country, per Hoop-Math. South Carolina may not force a ton of turnovers, but it contests everything and rarely gives up freebies at the charity stripe.

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Tennessee Volunteers

At first glance, this Tennessee squad might appear to be a carbon copy of previous seasons.

Once again, the Vols have a statistically elite defense with an Adjusted Defensive Efficiency of 90.9, per KenPom — the second-best mark in the nation. They are led by familiar faces in Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler and Jonas Aidoo.

The eye test and offensive numbers tell a new story, though.

Knecht, the Northern Colorado transfer who scores 19.5 points per game, has electrified the Vols’ attack, making shots from everywhere and generally proving to be a matchup nightmare. He's an NBA-level scorer, and few teams have NBA-caliber wing defenders — they are all earning professional paychecks already.

Zeigler and Aidoo have taken major steps forward as scorers, too, allowing Vescovi and James to settle in comfortably as complementary weapons. This is Barnes’ best offense since 2018-19, when his Volunteers lost an absolutely epic Sweet 16 game to Purdue.

Sure, some postseason skepticism still surrounds Barnes.

He did make the Sweet 16 again last year, though, and this group has a real chance to set that narrative ablaze. And the Vols have been tremendous in the regular season under Barnes’ watchful eye.

South Carolina vs Tennessee

Betting Pick & Prediction

Knecht is essentially an active volcano lately, averaging a ridiculous 32.0 points over his last five outings. Wagering against him is terrifying; he can erupt for 10 quick points at any moment.

However, South Carolina is capable of frustrating Knecht and Tennessee as a whole.

The Gamecocks want to slow the game to a half-court pace, taking away transition opportunities for the Vols — who quietly love to run offensively.

Davis and Stute — who will reportedly be available after missing the last three games — give Paris two bigger wing defenders to rotate on Knecht.

Offensively, the Gamecocks’ potent shooting across their lineup will be crucial. Tennessee is exceedingly difficult to score against inside, so South Carolina must loosen the defense with some perimeter jumpers. Mack’s presence as a stretch five could be pivotal in pulling Aidoo away from the rim.

Tennessee could certainly run away and hide in this one in front of a raucous Thompson-Boling Arena crowd. But given the matchup edges, this number is too high for me. I think South Carolina competes.

Pick: South Carolina +13.5 (Play to +11)

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