Tennessee vs. Kentucky College Basketball Odds & Pick: Bet Low-Scoring Game In Lexington
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Jackson
- The Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers meet up in SEC play on Saturday night.
- BJ Cunningham expects a low-scoring matchup in a game involving one of the country's best defenses.
- Check out Cunningham's full betting preview complete with a pick and updated odds below.
Tennessee vs. Kentucky Odds
The Volunteers look to rebound after a midweek loss to Ole Miss when they travel to Lexington to take on Kentucky.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Rick Barnes’ squad, as they are 5-4 in SEC play, despite being ranked 11th in the AP Poll.
Their defense has been the reason they are ranked so high, but their offense has been a different story. It’ll be interesting to see if they are able to do enough offensively to avoid an upset against a down Kentucky team.
This season has been a nightmare for Kentucky, and it’s only getting worse. The Wildcats are 5-11 on the year and have lost four of their last five games.
John Calipari’s squad is desperately struggling on offense, and things won’t get any easier on Saturday against the best defense in college basketball.
When Tennessee has the ball
For Tennessee’s offense to be successful, it has to get the ball as close to the basket as possible.
The Volunteers have two of the best frontcourt players in the SEC in Yves Pons and John Fulkerson. However, Tennessee has been struggling inside ever since SEC play began.
It averages only 0.97 points per possession and is shooting only 47.2% from 2-point range.
Tennessee is not only struggling from 2-point range, but it’s also struggling from 3-point range, shooting only 31.3% in conference play.
It’s also one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the SEC at barely over 65%. So, the Wildcats’ stellar defense should have no issue shutting down the Volunteers.
The only reason Kentucky has five wins this season is because of its defense. The Wildcats defend the paint at an elite level, allowing only 45.4% from inside the arc and have the fourth-highest block rate in the country.
So, Tennessee is most likely going to be forced to shoot more 3s than it wants to, which is a problem since it’s hitting them at such a low percentage.
When Kentucky has the ball
The Wildcats’ offense has been nothing short of atrocious this year. Calipari’s men are averaging only 0.98 points per possession in conference play, which is mainly due to the fact that they can’t hit the broad side of a barn when they’re inside the 3-point arc.
Kentucky is shooting an SEC low 45.4% from 2-point range, which is going to be a problem on Saturday since it’s facing off against the top-ranked defense in the country in terms of efficiency, per KenPom.
The only way Kentucky has a shot on Saturday is if it hits a high percentage from 3-point range.
The Wildcats are making 3s at a 34.2% rate in conference play but only attempt them on 29.1% of their field-goal attempts. They are also going to have to hold onto the ball because Tennessee is the 10th-ranked team in the country in terms of turnover percentage.
Kentucky has one of the highest turnover rates allowed to opposing defenses, so it’s going to be a struggle for the Cats on Saturday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think this is going to be a grind-it-out game played in the half-court.
Both Kentucky and Tennessee rank in the bottom third of college basketball in tempo, so every possession is going to matter in this game. Not to mention, both of these teams rank in the top 15 in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, so this game is likely to turn into a rock fight.
I have only 119.01 points projected for this game, so I think there’s some value on under 125.5 points.
Pick: Under 125.5 (down to 123).