No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers at Kansas Jayhawks
Tennessee Volunteers (9-2) +2.5 at Kansas Jayhawks (9-3) -2.5
Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, K.S., 2:00PM Eastern, Saturday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The first weekend of 2009 highlights an out of conference showdown between college basketball powerhouses the no. 14 ranked Tennessee Volunteers and the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks are off to a disappointing start with a record of 9-3 and a big win over the Volunteers would be just the thing they need to get them heading in the right direction. Tennessee has bounced back after a disappointing loss to Temple a few weeks back to win 3 straight games. The Jayhawks own one of top 5 longest home winning streaks with 31 consecutive victories inside Allen Fieldhouse. The Volunteers will be trying to put an end to this streak and get a victory over the defending National Champions this Saturday.
Kansas has had a sluggish start this season losing some game they should have won against teams like Massachusetts and Arizona. The Jayhawks are shooting a fairly strong 47% from the field this season and they will have to knock down some shots against a stout scoring unit in Tennessee. The Jayhawks are averaging 36 rebounds per game and also sport the number 20 ranked field percentage defense in America. Kansas has held opposing teams to a low 36 percent field goal percentage this season. The Jayhawks must force some turnovers and not allow Tennessee to get hot if they plan on holding onto the 31 game home-winning streak.
Tennessee is one of the biggest high-scoring teams in the land averaging a potent 84.5 points per game ranking them as the 6th best scoring offense in the country. The Volunteers also average a mind-blowing 40 rebounds per game that has them ranked as high as number 3 in America in terms of rebounding. The Vols have allowed a good bit of points defensively in respect to their high power offense, but Tennessee will attempt to lockdown the Jayhawks who are averaging a pretty good 78 points per game this season. Tennessee has played well in recent weeks and they must keep up that momentum as they are facing a tough stretch of games in the upcoming contest primarily with no. 10 Gonzaga in 4 days following the Kansas match-up.
Vegas has opened the betting lines favoring the home winning streak to continue with the Kansas Jayhawks favored by 2.5 points. ATS odds stand even right now at -110. Early betting action shows that a strong majority of the betting public is favoring Kansas to cover the spread in Saturdays game.
The Volunteers had a scare last game when one of their key players Wayne Chism landed hard on his back in what looked like a serious injury. However, Chism is scheduled to play and his 11.8 points and 9 rebounds per game will be needed to beat the Jayhawks. Chism has been one of the top performers this year along with the play of junior forward Tyler Smith. Smith is averaging 17 points per game this season with 5 rebounds and 4 assist to add to the mix. Smith and Chism will attempt to lead a high scoring Volunteer team over the Jayhawks.
Kansas Jayhawks Sherron Collins has a 17 point average as well this season as he has been the most consistent performer for the team. Sophomore big man Cole Aldrich has been a very effective force for the inside game this season. Aldrich has amassed 14.6 points per game along with 9.6 rebounds nearly averaging a double-double for the year. Aldrich will need to grab some boards against a Tennessee team that nearly leads the nation in total rebounds per game. Kansas hopes to slow the pace of the game down against Tennessee and expose their inside threats while holding off one of the nations most elite scoring teams.
Tennessee is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games against the books while splitting the over/under in their last 5 game with a mark of 2-2-1. Kansas has been fairly indecisive as well with the over/under total going 2-2 in their last 4 games. The Jayhawks are 3-2 ATS in their last 5 games that received a betting line.
Jays Pick - Tennessee ends the streak at Allen Fieldhouse in a thriller.