Free Picks: Tennessee Volunteers vs Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbillt vs Tennessee NCAAB
Tennessee Volunteers vs Vanderbilt Commodores, NCAA, Memorial Gym

The Tennessee Volunteers (15-6, 8-6 SEC) currently sit fifth in the crowded SEC standings, and they’re only a couple of games out from second place. Every win matters, and they’ll have a chance to add another when they face the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-12, 2-10 SEC), who’ve played far better than their record of late. Tennessee beat Vanderbilt, 81-61, last month, but the Commodores have played much scrappier in the time since. They’ll be fickle against the spread, at the very least.

Volunteers hope to crush familiar foe; Commodores have other plans

In any sport, there are some teams and/or players that are more talented than they’re given credit for. You might call them “sneaky good.” It would be difficult to apply the same tag to Vanderbilt, given their atrocious 2-10 record in the SEC this season, but know this: the Commodores are definitely better than their win/loss totals indicate.

Consider that Vanderbilt has gone 2-5 in its past seven games, but that these are their margins of defeat: seven, three, six, four and four. They aren’t winning much, sure, but they’re hanging around. They are not a fun team to have to play right now.

Well, maybe No. 25 Tennessee disagrees. The Volunteers dismantled Vanderbilt, 81-61, when these teams met back on Jan. 16. The NCAA basketball odds for this game will surely indicate Tennessee as a favorite, but given that they’ll be on the road — and that Vanderbilt has looked decent in recent weeks, a single-digit spread would be unsurprising. For the purpose of this BetPicks prediction, we’ll surmise the spread to land somewhere in the range of 6-10 points.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Pssh, 10 points? But Tennessee won by 20 last time! This is a no-brainer!” Not so fast. Do you know what Vanderbilt just did in its last game? It lost to No. 6 Alabama, on the road, by four points (as 14-point underdogs). There were times inside the final minutes of that game in which Vanderbilt was one shot away from tying things up.

So maybe this Vanderbilt team isn’t quite the same as the one that got steamrolled by Tennessee. I mean, they’re 5-0-2 against the spread in their past seven, which should tell you something (Tennessee is 3-4 in the same stretch).

What’s happening for Vanderbilt is that they’re starting to make 3-pointers. As a team they shoot 34.9 percent (112th in NCAA Division I), but in six of their past seven games they’ve outperformed that. And they really live and die by the 3-pointer, given that it accounts for 45.5 percent of their field goal attempts (25th in D-I).

Ride the hot-shooting team, and who knows, Tennessee might even be on upset watch.

Stats

  • Tennessee is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The OVER has cashed in eight of the Volunteers’ past 10 games
  • Vanderbilt is 6-4 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Commodores’ past nine games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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