Kentucky Wildcats (12-4) at No. 24 Tennessee Volunteers (10-4)
Knoxville, T.N., 9:00PM Eastern, Tuesday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Kentucky Wildcats take their 12-4 campaign on the road Tuesday night to Knoxville to battle with SEC foe the no. 24 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Volunteers had a bad week to start the New Year losing their first two games in 2009 to Kansas and Gonzaga while taking a big drop in the rankings. Kentucky has won their last 4 out of 5 with a close 3 point loss to Louisville in a blue grass hoops battle. The Wildcats will attempt to capture a big conference victory on the road at Tennessee Tuesday night and stay unbeaten in conference play.
Tennessee reached the number 8 ranking in the nation earlier this season but they have had a few stumbles in recent weeks. The Volunteers are among the most talented team in the SEC and will look to improve to 2-0 in the conference. The Vols sport one of the best scoring offenses in America that is averaging 84 points per game that ranks 6th nationally. Tennessee big achievement has come off of the glass. The Volunteers lead the nation in rebounding with 40.6 rebounds per contest. The Vols ability to grab rebounds gives them many extra opportunities to score points and they will need that to continue this Tuesday.
Kentucky has been fairly strong on the offensive side of the court as well this season averaging 79 points per game that places them in the top 25 of teams across the country. Kentucky is among one of the best pure shooting teams in college basketball. The Wildcats are shooting a very strong 50.6% from the floor this season that ranks 6th in the NCAA. The Wildcats have been very effective in keeping other teams from making shots as well. Kentucky represents the 12th best field goal percentage allowed in America with opposing teams only being able to shoot a mere 36.9% from the floor. The Wildcats will need to give some strong defensive looks against the Volunteers and keep the scoring down.
Bodog Sportsbook has opened the betting line favoring the home team by a touchdown if we were on the field at -7. The Vols have played well this season as favorites over 5 points going 6-1 ATS. Kentucky is 2-1 ATS this season as the underdog.
The Volunteers are led by the play of junior Tyler Smith. Smith has been solid with 17.7 points per game along with 6 rebounds. Wayne Chism is the backbone of the team nearly averaging a double-double with 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds every contest. Chism has been playing well in recent weeks and can really present opposing teams with problems inside the paint. The Volunteers bench play could become a deciding factor late in the game. Tennessee averages 27 points per game from the bench and that could play an important role in wearing down the Wildcats.
Kentucky is led by one of the best players in this part of the country in junior guard Jodie Meeks. Meeks ranks 5th individually in scoring and has proven that he can put a team on his back and make big plays. Surprisingly, Kentucky only has one other player averaging double digit points total. That player is one of the best young forwards in the nation Patrick Patterson. Patterson is averaging a stout 19 points per game along with 9 rebounds. Patterson and Meeks will attempt to lead the Wildcats to a big victory on the road and keep their season outlook bright.
Kentucky leads the series winning the last 7 out of 10 contest while also going 7-3 ATS in that stretch against the Vols as well.
Jays Pick - Both teams are inconsistent with their play, but I believe Tennessee is the better team and they should win this one convincingly. Take UT -7.