Tennessee vs. Ole Miss College Basketball Betting Odds & Pick: Take the Underdog Rebels (Feb. 2)
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Keon Johnson
- Tennessee finally righted the ship on Saturday, but are the Vols in a sleepy spot against Ole Miss on Tuesday night?
- The Rebels have stymied teams with their zone defense all season and are due for some positive regression from behind the 3-point line.
- Get Stuckey's best bet for Ole Miss vs. Tennessee below.
Tennessee at Ole Miss
Tennessee finally put it all together on Saturday in a convincing win over Kansas, but the Vols have still been one of the most overall disappointing teams to date — to me at least.
Most people agree that Baylor and Gonzaga are in a class of their own this season, but figuring out the next tier is a much more difficult task, specifically who that third-best team might be.
I was convinced Tennessee would emerge as that team due to its suffocating defense, but the offense just hasn’t been there on a consistent basis. There are simply too many dry spells when this team isn’t getting to the line at a high clip.
Can the Vols carry over their momentum from Saturday night, or is Ole Miss a live home dog? Let’s take a closer look.
The Tennessee defense is elite. The Vols have no shortage of tremendous on-ball defenders that have them ranked No. 2 in Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom.
They challenge every shot and turn teams over at a high clip. And per Synergy, they not only grade out in the 98th percentile in half-court defense, they’re elite when they decide to press, which they’ve done 13.8% of the time this season. This is arguably the best defense in the country.
The offense hasn’t been bad, per se, but it’s certainly the primary weakness of this team. It’s why the Vols have dropped from third to 12th in my power ratings since the start of the season. They’ve also been beaten on the glass way too often in conference play, which is something Ole Miss can take advantage of.
When you look at the Rebels, the offensive stats are all ugly, while the defense has been very strong. Ole Miss turns teams over at a high rate with Kermit Davis’ vintage 1-3-1 amoeba zone that has been highly effective this year.
The Rebels rank in the 95th percentile in points per possession when in zone defense, per Synergy. That could pose problems for a Tennessee offense that has looked putrid against zone defenses this year.
The Vols, who have seen zones 12.5% of the time, rank in the 23rd percentile in those possessions. I expect to see a heavy dose of zone from Ole Miss all game.
You won’t find many advantages for the subpar Ole Miss offense against the lockdown Tennessee defense. However, you’d think shots have to eventually start falling for the Rebels.
By no means do they project as a plus-shooting team, but they also aren’t as poor as their 25.9% mark from behind the arc in conference play. SEC opponents have also shot a torrid 37.4% from deep against them.
I’d imagine the Rebels have some positive 3-point shooting regression coming their way in the near future on both sides.
Since I make this line closer to Tennessee -3, I gladly took +4.5 with the Rebels, especially considering this is a potential flat spot for Rick Barnes’ group after a blowout win over Kansas with a trip to Rupp Arena on deck.
I know Kentucky is having a down year, but that trip still means something to SEC teams.
We’ve certainly seen some head-scratching performances from Tennessee this season. This could be another one against a team desperate for a win.
Plus, catching 4.5 points is even more valuable in a game with a total of 124 in a matchup of two teams with excellent defenses that also rank outside the top 300 in Adjusted Tempo.
I’m holding my nose and siding with the Rebels.
The Pick: Ole Miss +4.5.