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On Saturday, the SEC will have seven games on the schedule for college hoops fans to enjoy, meaning every team will be in action. Our game is one of the more intriguing matchups because it’s a rivalry game — Tennessee at Vanderbilt. Tip-off is set for 5:00 P.M ET on the SEC Network.
Vols Having Tough Season
It’s been somewhat of a disappointing season for Rick Barnes and his Tennessee Volunteers. Coming off seasons where they won games in the NCAA Tournament and finished in the Top 15, the Vols started this season ranked №20. After going 3–6 against Top 100 teams thus far this season, they have fallen all the way to №63. Their last loss was especially tough, falling to Georgia by 17 points in a game which they were 2.5-point underdogs.
And ... let’s ride pic.twitter.com/3mH1Y0J0XJ— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 15, 2020
Despite their fall in rankings, the Volunteers have a good defensive unit. They rank fourth in the SEC in defensive efficiency and №37 overall. From inside the arc, they’re holding opponents to 41.3 percent shooting, a mark that ranks №1 in the SEC. In their last win, they held South Carolina to 15.4 percent from beyond the arc, though overall, they’re the second-worst team in the SEC in three-point defense (34.3 percent). On offense, they have had to overcome losing their three leading scorers from last season. Luckily, freshman Santiago Vescovi became eligible four games ago and currently leads the team in scoring (12.5 ppg). This was big for the Vols because their leading scorer before he got on the floor — Lamonte Turner (12.3 ppg) — is out for the season with an injury. The Vols are shooting just 31 percent from deep and rank №12 in the SEC from an efficiency perspective.
Vandy Needs to Stop SlideThe Vanderbilt Commodores are in rebuild mode this year, having fired their head coach after last season and hiring a new coach, former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse. The Commodores are 8–8 through 16 games, but they’re winless against high-major programs and in conference play. Against teams ranked in the Top 150, they have gone 1–8, with their lone win coming over №100 Davidson. Vandy is on a four-game losing streak heading into Saturday.
Vandy’s biggest issue is with their defense, which ranks №250 in defensive efficiency — dead-last in the SEC and the only conference team lower than №130. They’re allowing 73.2 points per game overall this season, last in the SEC, and 79.8 points per game during their four-game losing streak. Vandy is allowing opponents to shoot 35.2 percent from beyond the arc and 50.9 percent from inside the arc, both last in the SEC. Offensively, they’re much better off. Vandy is averaging 75.9 points per game overall. Surprisingly, they rank in the Top 25 in effective field goal percentage (54 percent) and attempted free throws per game (22.8). Unfortunately, their best player, , Aaron Nesmith, is out with a foot injury.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. Tennessee.
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite.
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a road favorite.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It's not the popular pick, that's for sure, but the right side here is with Vanderbilt. The Commodores have the benefit of being at home, always a unique experience for road teams, and they're ridiculously overdue for a big win. Their issue is their defense but being at home should help them out in that category. After all, their biggest win of the season came at home so they have done it before. Vandy always plays the Vols tough, having gone 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings, and the Vols are without their second-best scorer.
Prediction: Vanderbilt +5
Full-Game Total Pick
This is not going to be a shootout, you can bet on that. Vanderbilt has an above-average offense, but this isn't the offense they have had all season. Their best player -- Aaron Nesmith -- who's also the leading scorer in the entire SEC, is out with a foot injury and his 20-plus points per game are going to be hard to make up. I mean, in their only game since he went down, the team scored 55 points, over 20 points below their season average. The Vols are good on defense, especially against teams that aren't that great. In their last five games against teams outside the KenPom Top 150, they're allowing just 47.6 points per game. Book the under here, hard.
Prediction: Under 136