Two struggling teams will meet in an SEC affair on Saturday, February 4 when the Auburn Tigers host the Tennessee Volunteers. One is a potential No. 1 seed in the Big Dance next month but is coming off a surprising loss. The other? It's coming off a win but has lost two of its previous three games.
Tennessee shocked me and many in the college basketball world when it traveled to Gainesville to face Florida, looked lifeless for much of the game, and eventually lost.
It's hard to make out precisely who Auburn is. It finds itself at the back end of the Top 25, which indicates that pollsters are mixed in how they feel.
What's the Best Bet for this one? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Tennessee vs. Auburn.
Auburn vs Tennessee best odds
Auburn vs Tennessee picks and predictions
It's difficult for me to trust either one of these teams.
The Vols had multiple matchup advantages against Florida. Not just losing, but looking at how they lost has forced me to re-evaluate things. As for the Tigers, I've been lower on them most of the season than the market, and it's finally caught up to them in this matchup. I'm looking at the total for my Best Bet.
We're going Under 134.5. The defense has been the identity of Tennessee basketball this season. It was mostly toothless against Florida, and I trust they'll be focused on returning to it. In its three losses this season, the total has gone Under in the preceding game. The one Over came after the loss in November, so it has little reference at this point of the season. On the other side, Auburn's defense has been solid enough to hold opponents to an average of .91 points per possession. But this is just the surface level; let's look at the actual matchup.
Auburn has the tools to slow the Tennessee offense down if it holds its own on the backboard.
Post-play is a pivotal part of who the Vols are. They want to get paint touches (and shots) around the rim with players like Uros Plasvic and Olivier Nkamhoua. Post-ups are the second most commonly run set play by the Vols and easily their most effective one. The problem in this matchup is that Auburn has been exceptional in defending there. It allows the fewest points on post-ups in the SEC and are among the top in the country at just .61 points per possession.
The rim numbers are good, too. The Tigers funnel the defense to actually give up shots at the rim (fifth-most allowed among Power 5 schools) but remarkably remain in the Top 50 of opponent field goal percentage at the rim. This adds up to one thing: tough sledding on the offensive end for Tennessee.
On the other side, I trust Tennessee to get back to what it's done most of the season. Even though the number has ticked lately, the Vols are still first in opponent points allowed at around 55. I still consider the Vols an elite defense, even if I was surprised by last week.
Florida got so many looks due to cutting and back-door actions involving Colin Castleton. It didn't always result in a shot at the rim, but it usually always resulted in a good look because it forced the defense to move. I don't think Auburn can do the same things that the Gators did in that respect. Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome are good post players, but I don't think either is quite the cutting threat that Castleton is.
Let's see an ugly one. Grab the Under here.
My best bet: Under 134.5 (-110 at BetRivers)
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Auburn vs Tennessee spread analysis
I see a path to victory for Auburn.
The only way you bet this game from a side perspective is by taking the value on the moneyline. However, I will be watching for a few things first and want to see how Auburn looks on the glass. The Tigers' key to staying competitive is matching the physicality of Tennessee. I thought they got some baptism by fire in its previous game against West Virginia. It took the Tigers a while to settle in.
Still, eventually, they matched the Mountaineers' level and fought but were already too far behind. If Auburn comes out ready to reach that level from the start, then watch out. Its defense can pose many issues for Tennessee. When you have a low-scoring game, the chance for the underdog to pull off the upset (obviously) goes up immensely.
Auburn vs Tennessee Over/Under analysis
I feel strongly about the Under today, which is why I made it my Best Bet.
I'm projecting 70 possessions, but I wouldn't be shocked to see fewer. Auburn will make Tennessee work on the offensive line to find good shots, and the Vols are perfectly fine working in those situations. Whether those possessions result in a made shot may be inconsequential so long as a significant amount of time is coming off the clock.
Auburn vs Tennessee betting trend to know
The Under is 25-12 in the Volunteers’ last 37 games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600. Find more college basketball betting trends for Auburn vs. Tennessee.
Auburn vs Tennessee game info
|Location:||Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN|
|Date:||February, February 4, 2023|
|Tip-off:||2:00 p.m. ET|