Texas vs Tennessee Odds, Picks and Predictions: Longhorns Accept Challenge

Tennessee loves to bring the pressure, but Texas won't crack easily. See why our college basketball picks think the Longhorns can take care of the ball — and Saturday's spread.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2023 11:08 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Marcus Carr Texas
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The SEC/Big 12 challenge takes place on Saturday, headlined by a clash between the No. 10 Texas Longhorns and the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers.

This should be a terrific showdown between a pair of national championship contenders with Rick Barnes leading the Volunteers against the program he coached for almost two decades.

College basketball betting odds opened with the Vols as 8-point home favorites but money has poured in on the underdogs with the spread slimming to -5.5. Here are my best free Texas vs. Tennessee college basketball picks and predictions for January 28.

Texas vs Tennessee best odds

Texas vs Tennessee picks and predictions

Tennessee has looked dominant lately with an average scoring margin of plus-20.3 ppg in its last three games, but Texas is far better than Georgia, LSU, and Mississippi State.

The Longhorns have an experienced backcourt that should be able to take care of the ball against a Tennessee team that loves to pressure. The Longhorns also do an excellent job of forcing turnovers themselves and the Vols are significantly worse when it comes to ball security, ranking just 245th in the country in turnover rate.

Texas also has a diverse offense with good ball movement and multiple players that can score from close to the basket and mid-range. On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns have the length and athleticism to limit a Vols offense that shoots just 44.2% from the floor. 

The Longhorns have played well on the road and with three seniors in their starting lineup and another logging more than 23 minutes per game off the bench — they won't be fazed by the hostile venue at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Unfortunately, we're not getting the best available number for Texas at this time of the day but I'd still lean toward a very good Longhorns team at +5.5.

My best bet: Texas +5.5 (-110 at bet365)

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Texas vs Tennessee spread analysis

These teams have identical 17-3 records and have looked very good lately with the Longhorns going 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS) in their last six games and the Volunteers going 8-1 SU (6-3 ATS) in their previous nine.

Interestingly enough, the recent defeats for both schools came against similar opposition to what they face today. The Longhorns lost 78-67 on the road against a highly-rated Iowa State defense that does an excellent job of forcing turnovers and defending on the perimeter. The Volunteers lost 63-56 at home against an athletic Kentucky squad with multiple scoring options. 

These have been two of the best teams in the country all season. The Vols have been anchored by a dominant defense that ranks first in the country in adjusted efficiency according to KenPom. They are a modest 40th in adjusted offensive efficiency and as mentioned above they don't shoot well and can be sloppy with their ball handling.

That said, they attack the glass (third-best in the country in offensive rebound rate) and have four players averaging double digits in points while Josiah-Jordan James (9.8 ppg) and Tyreke Key (8.9 ppg) aren't far behind. 

The Longhorns are a high-scoring team that ranks 12th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency. The Longhorns also have four players averaging double digits in scoring led by point guard Marcus Carr, who paces the team with 17.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.

While the Vols hold opponents to just 21.6% shooting from long range, the Longhorns don't attempt many three-pointers. They excel inside the arc and rank 14th in the country in 2-point percentage (56.3%).

Despite parting ways with head coach Chris Beard after he was arrested on felony assault charges, the Longhorns have managed to stay focused on the court. Acting head coach Rodney Terry has led the school to a 10-2 record and has done a good of utilizing different lineups and making adjustments during close games.

Texas vs Tennessee Over/Under analysis

The Vols are an elite defensive team that leads the country in points per game allowed (53.7) and opponent field goal percentage (33.9%). They also play at a below-average pace and are 192nd in adjusted tempo.

While that would normally be a recipe for Unders, Tennessee's ability to generate second chances on offense and low totals set by oddsmakers has led to the Over going 5-2 in the last seven games. 

The Longhorns have been pushing the pace at a far faster clip than in previous years and have also become more efficient in terms of their shooting.

They're averaging just 15.9 seconds per offensive possession (the 29th-lowest number in the country) which has led to them averaging 80.5 ppg. They're also averaging 75.2 ppg in their last five games despite facing Top-12 ranked defenses such as Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and TCU during that span.

Texas vs Tennessee betting trend to know

The Over is 9-2-1 in the Longhorns' last 12 games overall. Find more college basketball betting trends for Texas vs. Tennessee.

Texas vs Tennessee game info

Location: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2023
Tip-off: 6:00 p.m. ET

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