Bettors who glance at sportsbook odds for Tuesday night college basketball will notice a few lines that stand out from the pack. Liberty is favored over Stetson by (-24.5) in the widest NCAA point spread of the evening and Duke is favored to embarrass ACC rival Boston College (+23.5).
But the point spread that perhaps leaps out the most is in the SEC. The 11-9 Missouri Tigers are (+17) underdogs to the AP Poll’s #1 Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee Waltzing to Victories
The Vols have earned an ironclad ranking atop Division 1 hoops after running up a 20-1 overall record and a perfect SEC mark through 8 conference games. Junior power forward Grant Williams leads the squad with 20.4 points per game and is averaging over 7 boards per outing. Senior guard Admiral Schofield, as his name would suggest, is a sharpshooter from downtown. Tennessee has won 16 in a row including its last 3 (over West Virginia, South Carolina, and Texas A&M) by an average of 19 points.
It’s notable that the Volunteers are a near 20-point favorite given the enduring respectability of the Missouri basketball program. Almost always a big and strong team with depth, Mizzou won 6 games in a row earlier in 2018-19, clobbering Xavier 71-56 along the way. But the squad has struggled in recent games, giving bookmakers no reason to think that a 2-6 SEC record-to-date has been a fluke.
The Tigers lost 87-64 to Tennessee on January 8th in an outcome that seemed to set a reversion-slump in motion. Head coach Cuoszo Martin’s team would go on to drop 6 of its next 7.
Fun & Gun
The Volunteers’ high-powered offense has not been held to less than 71 points all season. Like any talented unit, the Vols sometimes get impatient and force shots from bad looks. 6’2″ junior guard Lamonte Turner went just 3-of-13 when Tennessee lost to Kansas 87-81 in December.
But the hosts’ fast break could have a field day against the sputtering Tigers. Missouri has had issues with turnovers, passing the ball poorly and recording 20 TOs compared to merely 7 assists in a recent 92-58 drubbing at the hands of Auburn. The other “Tigers” went nearly 48% from the field in the contest thanks to numerous open looks and easy buckets.
Prediction and Point Spread Pick
While this spread may appear too loose at first glance, it is actually too tight. The Volunteers have all the tools necessary to put the game in garbage time midway through the back 20:00.
Take Tennessee to cover (-17).
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