Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Pick

Vanderbilt Commodores (16-1) +10.5, 162 O/U at Tennessee Volunteers
(14-1) -10.5, 162 O/U, 7 PM Eastern, Thursday
by Badger of

Two teams with only one loss each this year face off when No. 14
Vanderbilt travels to take on No. 7 Tennessee in a key early season
SEC showdown at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville Thursday on

Vanderbilts lone defeat this season will be fresh in their minds, as
it happened the last time they took the floor in a 79-73 loss at
Kentucky in overtime on January 12th. Prior to their loss last time
out, the Commodores had run off 14-straight wins to start the season,
including their SEC opener versus South Carolina, 80-73, back on
January 9th.

Tennessee is playing great basketball so far this season, beating a
plethora of solid teams in their non-conference schedule (Gonzaga,
Xavier, Western Kentucky) as well as winning their first two SEC
games of the season versus Ole Miss (an 85-83 win) and South Carolina
(an 80-56 win on January 12th). The Vols only loss this season came
back on Thanksgiving, a 97-78 loss to Texas.

The opening line came out of Las Vegas with Tennessee as a 10.5-point
favorite, with a 162-point total. The Vols are also a -700 on the
moneyline, with Vanderbilt as a +570.

Tennessees offense has thrived under head coach Bruce Pearls
system, scoring 86.7 points per game (3rd overall). The Vols do take
a lot of shots though, which is why their shooting percentages (45.6
from floor, 35.7 from 3-point) are not what most basketball purists
consider strong.

The good thing for Tennessee is that they no longer rely on guard
Chris Lofton to carry the scoring load. JaJuan Smith , Tyler Smith
and Wayne Chism help to balance the floor and provide more scoring
options, as their 15, 11 and 13 point performances in the Vols win
over Ole Miss last time out proved (while Lofton only had 5 points).

Vanderbilt is also a strong offense team, averaging 86.0 points per
game (5th) while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor. The Commodores
are deadly from behind the arc though, as their 43.9 3-point
percentage is tops in the country.

Freshman Andrew Ogilvy is a force in the middle, averaging 19.4
points per game and 7.1 rebounds per contest. Together with guard
Shan Foster (20.4 ppg, 51.1 percent from 3-point), the two combine
for a one-two, inside-outside punch that most teams cannot match up
against defensively. Both of them struggled from the floor in their
loss at Kentucky (Foster 5-of-11, Ogilvy 6-of-11), so look for them
to take better shots versus the Vols.

Neither team would be considered a strong one on the defensive end.
Vandy allows an average of 75.6 points per game (301st), while
Tennessee is only slightly better at 68.7 (181st), so dont expect a
lot of defensive stops throughout the game on Thursday.

The teams split the season series last season, but Tennessee
throttled the Commodores at home to the tune of 84-57. Overall the
underdog tends to thrive in this series, as the dog is 6-2-1 ATS in
the last nine head-to-head meetings.

Tennessee is just 6-5 ATS so far this season, but they have covered
in three of their last four games (vs. Gonzaga, Xavier and
S.Carolina) with their only non-cover being the two-point victory
over Ole Miss as an 8.5-point favorite. Because of the Vols high-
profile offense they often have to chase large totals, and as a
result they are just 5-6 versus the total this season.

Vanderbilt is a dead even 8-8 ATS this year, but they have struggled
lately versus the spread failing to cover in five of their last seven
games including both of their SEC games this season. Vandy is also a
poor 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Thursday night games. They are however a
strong over play, as they are 11-5 this year versus the total and the
over is 18-8 in their last 26 overall games dating back to last season.

Injuries wont be much of a factor either, as Vanderbilt is
completely healthy while Tennessee will only be missing forward
Cameron Tatum, who is listed as questionable for the game Thursday.

Badgers Pick: This game should be an exciting one for fans, as
there certainly wont be a lack of shots from either team. Ultimately
it will be the defense (i.e. which team will actually play some at
crunch time) that will determine the outcome of this game. Even
though I think Tennessee wins at home in this game, 10.5 points is
too much to give against a solid Commodores team. Take Vandy to cover
plus the points.