Tennessee-LSU Betting Guide: Which Elite Offense Has the Edge?

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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kavel Bigby-Williams and Lamonte Turner

Tennessee-LSU Betting Odds

  • Odds: Tennessee -1.5
  • Total: 157
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 6 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.


It’s a three-horse race atop the SEC this season, and Tennessee can effectively eliminate LSU with a win to setup a massive showdown with Kentucky next week. A Tigers victory puts them squarely in the mix.

This game pits the SEC’s two best offenses against each other, but which has the edge? Our analysts break it down.

Market Moves for Tennessee-LSU

Tennessee opened as a 1-favorite offshore, briefly became a 1-point dog, then moved back to -1.5 overnight. Our Line Predictor tool at Sports Insights says this number will likely get to -2 on Saturday morning.

The total quickly dropped from the opener of 158.5 to 157. — Steve Petrella

Trends to Know

Tennessee (14-10) and LSU (15-8) both have winning over records this season. The Vols have been one of the best shooting teams in the country, making 50.7% of their shots (second) while the Tigers have connected on 47.0% of their attempts (tied 55th).

Despite over bettors profiting when these teams hit the court, it has been smart to bet the under when two good shooting teams play. This season, the under is 216-151-2 (59%) when both teams are making at least 45% of their shots, and it’s hit at 54% since 2005. — John Ewing

In the previous five years, Rick Barnes coached 67 total road games at Texas and Tennessee, and the under went 40-25-2 (61.5%).

In nine road games this season, the over is 8-1 for Tennessee, going over the total by 14.6 points per game. — Evan Abrams

Tennessee enters this game against LSU having failed to cover the spread in three consecutive games. Since 2005, Barnes’ teams have excelled when playing on an extended ATS losing streak, going 23-13-1 ATS (63.9%), covering the spread by 4.3 PPG.

In 2009-10 with Texas, the Longhorns went 1-8 ATS in this spot. If you assume that is a blip on the radar and you remove that season, Barnes is 22-5-1 ATS in this spot since 2005. — Evan Abrams

When Tennessee Has the Ball

The Tigers are getting credit for their frontcourt, led by Naz Reid, but they’ve still yielded the highest 2-point clip (54.3%) in SEC play, along with the third highest scoring rate (51.7%) from that vicinity. Their success down low has come on offense and on the boards, not on defense.

The Vols own league-highs in both 2-point percentage (56.2%) and scoring rate (56.2%). LSU ranks dead-last in 2-point defense in SEC play. After a getting outplayed in nearly every facet at Kentucky last Saturday, look for Barnes’ frontcourt to come out aggressive.

That will give Tennessee an opportunity to play inside-out vs. LSU’s below-average perimeter defense. The Vols have generated the third-highest 3-point clip (36.9%) in conference play.

If this one gets tight — like the line indicates — the Vols have the eighth-best free-throw percentage (77.1%) in the country. Williams gets to the line often because of his physical nature, and Barnes will gameplan around him down the stretch despite the Tigers’ length up front. — Eli Hershkovich

When LSU Has the Ball

In LSU’s road win at Kentucky, it became clear how efficient the Tigers are on the boards. They rank sixth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage behind a massive frontline. Reid (13.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and senior Kavell Bigby-Williams (7.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg) will be tough for Tennessee to contain.

Within SEC play, LSU has been the second-most efficient offense behind Tennessee. The key matchup to watch is LSU point guard Tremont Waters vs. Tennessee’s Jordan Bone. Waters (15.7 ppg, 5.9 apg) has averaged 7.25 3-point attempts over his last four games. The Volunteers rank 12th in the SEC against the 3-pointer, allowing 36.4% per game. Between Waters and guard Skylar Mays (13.2 ppg), the Tigers will get plenty of chances.

But this game will be won or lost on the interior for LSU. The Tigers are first in conference play in fewest blocks against while Tennessee ranks first in total blocks per game. Tennessee only ranks 250th nationally in steal percentage, so LSU should get quality looks on most offensive sets. The key to its success relies on the ability to generate second chance opportunities on the glass and using those chances for efficiency and volume from beyond the arc. — Mike Randle

LSU lives at the line on offense. The Tigers rank in the top 25 nationally in percentage of points from the charity stripe — and in the top 15 in free throws attempted per game. During conference play, the Tigers have a 43.6% FTA/FGA rate, which tops the SEC.

Well, Tennessee does a great job of defending without fouling, as its defense ranks fourth in that same category during conference play. — Stuckey

The Stakes

This game obviously means a lot to both teams in the SEC regular season race, which is now essentially a three-team race between Tennessee, LSU and Kentucky. The Vols sit all alone in first place at 12-1 in the conference, but that one loss came against Kentucky. And a loss today could cost them the SEC regular season title considering this is their only meeting with LSU this year — and LSU has the much easier schedule down the stretch.

But a Tennessee win would put significant distance between it and LSU and then set up a mega SEC showdown next Saturday against Kentucky, this time in Knoxville.

This game could also end up making or breaking Tennessee’s case for a No. 1 overall seed. A loss would drop UT to 1-3 against the AP Top 25. — Stuckey

Stuckey: 4 Reasons the Vols Can Pull This Out

As someone who backed Florida at LSU the other night, I was hoping LSU pulled out a close win. A Tigers victory would’ve made it easier to pull the trigger on Tennessee, but I still think the Vols are clearly superior and find a way to pull this out. The difference will be four key factors:

  • Experience: The Vols have one of the most experienced rosters in the nation (55th), while LSU has one of the least (323rd). I think Tennessee learns from last week in Rupp and comes out with a purpose early on.
  • Noon start: I think the noon start will help the road team here, as we can expect a more subdued crowd.
  • Turnovers: LSU does turn teams over on the defensive end, which is one of its strengths, but Tennessee simply doesn’t turn the ball over. The Vols lead the SEC during conference play with an excellent turnover rate of 15.1%
  • Defense: And most importantly, it’s the LSU defense, which is clearly the weakest unit in this game, that will ultimately cost them this game.

I think it’s a close one, as every LSU game seems to be since it never goes through long droughts with its prowess on the offensive glass, but the experienced Vols get it done with their elite offense.

Stuckey’s Pick: Tennessee -1.5