Tennessee vs. Florida Odds & Pick: Bet the Volunteers Over Shorthanded Gators
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Yves Pons.
- The Tennessee Volunteers will travel to Gainesville on Tuesday night to take on the Florida Gators in an SEC matchup.
- The Vols hold a significant advantage on the offensive glass, giving them a way to pull off a win -- and cover -- against a shorthanded Gators squad.
- Mike Randle breaks down the game below and explains why he's backing Tennessee below.
Tennessee vs. Florida Odds
With all the success of Gonzaga and Baylor, the college basketball world has forgotten the Tennessee Volunteers. Rick Barnes’ team sits at 10-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play, looking up at Alabama in the race for the SEC.
Tennessee travels to Florida to face a Gators team that is trying to redefine its identity after Keyontae Johnson’s health scare and Scottie Lewis’ absence per health protocols. The Gators have lost three of their last four games and are in desperate need of a conference win.
Can Florida earn a huge home upset against one of the top teams in the nation, or will the Volunteers continue to roll as they battle for their first SEC title since 2018?
Everything with Tennessee starts on defense.
The Volunteers rank second among all teams in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. They have held eight opponents to 61 points or less, including two true SEC road opponents to 54 points or less. Tennessee has excelled in turnover efficiency on both ends of the floor, ranking first in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage within SEC play.
Its roster is filled with long, lanky athletes that create havoc on the defensive end. Sophomore Josiah-Jordan James (8.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 spg) and senior Yves Pons (7.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg) are incredible defenders who can limit the opposing point guard or center.
The Volunteers’ slow and deliberate pace makes it difficult to overcome an early deficit. Florida will need to take control of the game early and get the Volunteers out of their comfort zone.
Barnes coaches a balanced Tennessee offense with four players. It boasts a strong inside-outside attack with guards Victor Bailey Jr. (12.3 ppg), Santiago Vescovi (10.1 ppg), and versatile 6-foot-9 forward John Fulkerson (11.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
Tennessee can make 3-pointers (34.7%) but only produces 24% of its points from beyond the arc (314th in the country). It’s an incredibly balanced offense with 54% of its points coming from within the arc and 21% coming from the free-throw line.
Florida prefers a faster pace but has battled offensive consistency issues all season. The Gators shoot well from beyond the arc in both season-long (37.6%) and SEC conference play (37%).
However, in blowout losses to Alabama and Kentucky, their 2-point efficiency disappeared. In those two games, Florida shot 35.7% (30-of-84) from inside the arc. With Johnson (16 ppg), its leading scorer, now out for the season, it has needed more scoring from Tre Mann (14 ppg), Colin Castleton (12.6 ppg), and Tyree Appleby (9.7 ppg).
Sophomore Lewis (11 ppg) has provided a huge scoring boost, but he tallied only two points in each of the losses to Alabama and Kentucky. He’s been in the COVID-19 protocol, and his status for Tuesday night’s game is still uncertain.
The biggest mismatch in this SEC showdown is on the offensive boards. Tennessee ranks 60th overall in offensive rebounding percentage, while Florida is just 253rd in limiting second-chance opportunities for opponents.
In Florida’s most recent loss at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs grabbed an incredible 15 offensive rebounds en route to a 72-69 win. Alabama and Kentucky grabbed 15 and 13 offensive boards, respectively, in their victories as well.
Fulkerson (20 offensive rebounds) and James (23 offensive rebounds) will likely provide extra opportunities for the Volunteers offense.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Florida has really struggled since losing Johnson, both on the court and against the spread. The Gators are 5-5 overall ATS but have covered just one of their past four games. The Volunteers need to keep pace with Alabama, reducing the likelihood of a lackluster road effort.
Barnes has enjoyed recent success against Mike White, having won four consecutive matchups against the Gators by an average of 8.3 points per game.
Florida has also struggled ATS at home under White’s tutelage. In his seven years at Florida, the Gators are only 19-28-1 (40.4%) ATS in conference games at Gainesville.
I’m laying the six points with the Volunteers on the road against a shorthanded Florida team still struggling for offensive consistency.
Pick: Tennessee -6 (up to Tennessee -6.5).