Florida Gators (18-4) +9.5, 156 O/U at Tennessee Volunteers (19-2)
-9.5, 156 O/U, Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn. 9 PM Eastern,
by Badger of Predictem.com
The No. 7-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will try to continue their recent success versus the Florida Gators when they welcome them into
the Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night for an SEC game shown on ESPN.
Even when the Gators have been winning National Championships the pas
few years, the Volunteers have had their number. Tennessee has won
four of the last five games versus their SEC rival, including an
86-76 victory over the Gators last February.
Tennessee passed a couple of big tests on the road last week, beating both Alabama (93-86) and Mississippi State (76-71) to stay in the
top-10 rankings and atop the SEC East standings. The Vols will also
be playing to keep their 27-game home winning streak alive, including
an 11-0 mark so far at home this season.
Florida fell out of the top-25 with a disappointing 80-61 loss at Arkansas last Saturday. The Gators were on a three-game winning
streak before the loss, including solid wins over Kentucky (in OT)
and Vanderbilt. Both of Floridas losses in SEC play have been on the
road (at Ole Miss, at Arkansas), so they will need to turn things
around quickly if they hope to snap the Vols home court dominance.
The Oddsmaker opened the game with Tennessee as 9.5-point favorite, and
with a 156-point total. The few online sportsbooks that are listing
a moneyline bet already have Tennessee listed at -550, while the
Gators are at +425.
Tennessee has won three straight games thanks in part to star guard
Chris Lofton finding his shooting touch. Lofton struggled in the
early part of the season, but has scored 20-plus points in four
straight games on some torrid shooting (53.6 percent from floor, 51.2
percent from 3-point range).
With Lofton back on track, Tyler Smith and JaJuan Smith have been
able to go back to their complementary roles. The Vols offense has
been averaging 84.6 points per game during the three-game streak,
just slightly above their season average of 83.7.
If Florida is going to stay in the game with the Vols they will need to shoot better than the 33 .3 percent they shot versus Arkansas
(just 4-for-25 from 3-point range). They do score a strong 80.2
points per game, and they are the 9th-best team in the NCAA with a
nearly 50 percent shooting touch from the floor (49.3).
Guard Nick Calathes leads the Gators with 15.8 points per game, but the offense is keyed by the only returning starter from the last two
years, Walter Hodge. Hodge averages just 10.3 points a game, and will
have to take on more of the scoring load if the Gators are going to
hang with Tennessee in this game.
The weakness in Tennessees game is defense and rebounding. The Vols allow over 70 points a game (70.7), and have just a meager 0.4
Florida is better on the defensive end than Tennessee, but you
wouldnt get that impression if you watched the Arkansas game
(allowed the Hogs to shoot 54.2 percent). They allow an average of
64.5 points per game, but they will have to find a way to keep Lofton
in check because he has typically burned the Gators in his five
career game versus them (averaging 19.2 points, 53 FG%, 46 3-Pt%).
Both teams have been solid for sports bettors this year, with Florida
(9-4 ATS) being a slightly better bet than the Vols (10-7 ATS).
Florida is 10-1 ATS in their last 11 SEC games, and was on a seven-
game covering streak prior to the loss at Arkansas. Tennessee has
covered three straight, and five of their last seven, but is just 4-3
ATS at home this season.
The one betting trend that jumps out among the pile of stats, the
underdog is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 head-to-head meetings.
Badgers Pick: I like the momentum that Tennessee is playing with
right now. They played two great games on the road last week,
including a game at Mississippi State many probably thought could be
their upset game. With most of the team in the NBA now, Florida is
just not what they were. Theyre still good, just not good enough to
beat Tennessee at home. Take Tennessee minus the points.