Tennessee Volunteers (20-6) at Kentucky Wildcats (17-9)
Game Info: Saturday, February 18, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. EST (Rupp Arena)
Betting Odds: Tennessee (-2) / Over/Under (135.5)
Pick: Kentucky (+2)
In a key SEC matchup on Saturday afternoon, we'll get a hungry Tennessee Volunteers team heading into the raucous Rupp Arena in hopes to revenge on their loss earlier in the season on their home court against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Tennessee was able to secure one of the most impressive wins of the season in all of the college basketball Wednesday night, when they took down the #1 seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, to give them their first loss in Conference Play. Despite this emphatic win, they have struggled mightily of late, only winning 2 of their last 5 games (1-4 ATS in that span). After starting Conference action 7-1, they have fallen back down to Earth a bit, now sitting with a 9-4 record. They rely heavily on their #1 ranked defense to control the game. But, when you dig deeper into the metrics of their defensive play, it isn't daunting at all. They only rank 80th in contesting shots on the perimeter but seem to keep holding teams below their season average in every game. This certainly calls for some regression, which has been occurring over the last stretch of games in that they have taken losses. As another matchup in the TENN-UK comes upon us, they will need their defense at its best if they want any chance of leveling the season series against the Wildcats.
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Kentucky has been a true disappointment so far this year, but they can change the trajectory of their season in the blink of an eye if they can beat a top-5 team in the Vols on their home floor. This game means more to them in every way than it does to the Vols, as Kentucky sits on the edge of the bubble coming into Saturday's game. With a win, they will jump into a completely secure spot inside the field, but with a loss, their bracket hopes could turn bleak. Thankfully for Kentucky supporters, they will be home in Rupp Arena for this one, somewhere they have excelled all year, with a 12-3 SU record. If they can turn this game into a half-court battle by not turning the ball over consistently, Head Coach John Calipari will love his team's chances of securing an immense win.
Betting trends to consider in this matchup:
- Kentucky games have gone over in 8 out of their last 9 games
- Tennessee is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games played
- Wildcat games have hit the over in 10 of 13 of their Conference games
This line is quite absurd to me. Sure Tennessee is a talented team, but its weaknesses and strengths do not match up well with Kentucky. The Vols rely on turning the opposing team's offense over to get into transition, but the Wildcats are one of the best teams in the country at holding onto the ball on the offensive end. In a crowd that should be packed from head-to-toe in blue on Saturday, I expect Kentucky to come out and hand Tennessee their second loss against them on the season. Give me Big Blue Nation to get loud early to help their home squad get over the line in this one.
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