Tennessee Volunteers vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Tennessee Volunteers (16-4 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) vs. LSU Tigers (9-12 SU, 4-13 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, February 4, 2010, Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Tennessee -7/LSU +7
Over/Under: 131.5

After losing four players to suspension following an arrest, including the dismissal of Tyler Smith, Tennessee was playing incredible basketball. The Volunteers won seven straight games, including five in a row after the incident, but they haven’t been so fortunate over the last two weeks. The Vols lost two games in a row before bouncing back with a one-point win over Florida on Sunday. They will try to get their mojo back when they play at last-place 0-7 LSU on Thursday night.

The Vols were rolling but they dropped two games in a row, losing 78-63 at Georgia and 85-76 at home to Vanderbilt. But their last game on Sunday was a 61-60 win at home over Florida. Wayne Chism had a nice game with 16 points and 11 rebounds, J.P. Prince had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Scotty Hopson had 10 points. The Vols only shot 39 percent from the field, 7-for-23 on 3-pointers, and 4-for-12 at the free throw line, and they allowed Florida to shoot 48 percent from the field, but they still managed to win the game. They did so by out-rebounding the Gators by six and by forcing 17 turnovers. They also held Florida to 4-of-16 on 3-pointers.

LSU has been awful this season. The Tigers are 0-7 in the SEC and have lost 10 of their last 11 games overall, with a home win over McNeese State being their only win since December 19. The closest they’ve came in any SEC game was a four-point loss at home to Auburn, and the next closest was a nine-point loss at South Carolina.

In their last game, the Tigers lost 67-51 on Saturday at Mississippi State. They scored just 15 points in the first half. Tasmin Mitchell had 26 points and 10 rebounds for LSU, and was the team’s only player to score in double figures. Mitchell has been one of the only bright spots for LSU this season, averaging 17.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. In the loss to Mississippi State, the Tigers shot 34 percent from the field and 5-for-15 on 3-pointers. They only had 12 turnovers, but they only forced eight turnovers.

Tennessee is forcing 18.9 turnovers per game for the season but the Vols aren’t doing a great job in the 3-point department in SEC play. They are allowing conference opponents to shoot 36 percent on 3-point attempts and are shooting 29 percent themselves. LSU is shooting just 39.5 percent from the field in conference play and allowing opponents to shoot 46.9 percent. They are shooting just 24.5 percent on 3-pointers in conference play and allowing SEC opponents to make 37.9 percent of their 3-pointers. There is not one major category that LSU has a statistical advantage over Tennessee in conference play.

The Vols are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a road favorite, 1-4 ATS in their last five games as a favorite, and 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall. LSU is 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a home underdog, 0-4 ATS in their last four games as an underdog, 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games, and 8-20 ATS in their last 28 games overall. The road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these teams. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams. Tennessee is 0-5 ATS in its last five games against LSU.

Ryno’s Pick: Tennessee is struggling right now by a hard-fought one-point win over Florida may have helped put the Vols back on the winning track. LSU hasn’t been able to beat any SEC teams yet and really haven’t been close in most of them. The Vols need a win and the Tigers aren’t a very good team. As long as Chism can lock down Mitchell, the Tigers will have no other choice than to rely on 3-pointers, where they are shooting just 24.5 percent in conference play. Even though the Vols haven’t been able to win any road game this season against legitimate competition by more than seven points, they should be able to easily win this one. Take Tennessee -7.