Tennessee Volunteers vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick 3/3/20

by | Mar 3, 2020 | cbb

Tennessee Volunteers (16-13 SU, 13-16 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (24-5 SU, 16-13 ATS)

When: Tuesday, March 3, at 9 p.m.

Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: TENN +8.5/UK -8.5 (Intertops - Oldest and Most Trusted! - 50% Bonus!)

Total: O/U 131

Last Time Out:

Tennessee defeated Florida 63-58; Kentucky knocked off Auburn 73-66.

Scouting the Volunteers:

Rick Barnes’ men might be a shadow of last year’s squad, but this Tennessee team is still fighting hard. Tennessee has little to play for except seeding in the SEC tournament, but the Volunteers still came up big with a win at home over Florida that severely damaged the Gators’ hopes of getting a decent seed. Now they’ve got their biggest rival in Kentucky, and they’d love to find a way to keep Kentucky from getting onto the No. 2 line and finding a way to Indianapolis for the regionals.

That’s going to be a tall task, given that Tennessee doesn’t have much in the way of depth. The Volunteers’ six-man rotation was down to five against Florida, as the five Tennessee starters played all but 17 minutes against the Gators, topped by Josiah Jordan James never coming out for even a minute. Clearly, Barnes only trusts the starters to get the job done at this point in the season, as they scored all 63 points in the win over the Gators.

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Scouting the Wildcats:

Kentucky continues to frustrate early on and then find a way to figure it out. John Calipari has done a great job bringing this team along and turning them into an outstanding cover squad, as the Wildcats have covered in seven of their past eight games. For the most part, the Cats have been getting the job done by spreading the scoring and hitting their shots. Kentucky didn’t shoot it well against Auburn, shooting a pedestrian 42.3 percent, but the Wildcats made up for it by getting to the foul line early and often against the Tigers. Kentucky hit 27 of 33 shots from the stripe, and Immanuel Quickley came up biggest of all, hitting all 11 foul shots and playing all 40 minutes to score 18 points. With six real options for points, there’s no way to focus on any one defender, which is precisely the way that Calipari wants it to be.

X-Factor:

Slow starts. Kentucky has a history of sleepwalking through the first few minutes and then turning it on once they’ve fallen behind by a few points. If you’re able to watch the game and you’re in an area that offers live betting, this can be a great opportunity to pick up a couple of free points on the Wildcats to give yourself some breathing room, or even increase your odds and make some extra money on your bet. If Kentucky is going to be such a frustrating team, it’s not a bad idea to try to use it to your advantage, if at all possible.

As for the game itself, Kentucky is likely going to fall in a hole again, as the Wildcats have made that a habit during this run. The key is going to be how both teams respond to the first few minutes. If Tennessee can build confidence, this can be a great opportunity for the Volunteers to stay in the game. If Kentucky uses it as a wakeup call again, this will be a rout.

Tennessee will Cover if:

The Volunteers can shoot the way they did against the Gators. Tennessee’s shooting touch was not there against Kentucky, as the Wildcats held the Vols to 34.5 percent from the floor and shot 54.3 percent themselves to create easy separation. Tennessee has to find a way to get good shots and make them because Kentucky is almost sure to keep hitting, given how well the Wildcats shoot.

Kentucky will Cover if:

The Wildcats can avoid turning the ball over. Kentucky coughed it up 14 times in Knoxville, and that was what allowed Tennessee to stay within shouting distance in a game that Kentucky should have won by 20. The Wildcats need to avoid the kind of mistakes that can keep a lesser team like Tennessee in the contest.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Given how little Tennessee has to play for, this line should probably be higher. The Vols are a decent team, but they are nowhere near Kentucky’s level, and they don’t have the depth to stay on the court with the Wildcats for 40 minutes. It’s also what was once Senior Night at Kentucky (these days, if you’re a senior at Kentucky, something went seriously wrong), and Big Blue Nation always comes out in force for the final game of the season at Rupp.

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