Tennessee Volunteers vs Kentucky Wildcats: Is backing the new underdog the right play for this game?

Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers (15-5, 5-2 SEC) are looking to now upset the Kentucky Wildcats (15-5, 5-3). However, the line started favoring the visitors. Navigating a line that has crossed over from one side to the other is always tricky. But in this case, this looks like an incident that the market had picked correctly when the line first came out.

Regardless of any other factor, the Tennessee Volunteers deserve to be in the top-team discussions. By contrast, Kentucky is not quite as strong as its conference counterparts. However, anything remains possible in a ranked matchup. Even as one team appears better positioned heading into the late tip-off game.

Tennessee Volunteers vs Kentucky Wildcats Betting Odds and Details

Team Spread Total MoneyLine
Tennessee Volunteers +1
-105
O158.5
-105
+110
Kentucky Wildcats -1
-115
U158.5
-115
-130
**Odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook**
  • Fixture: Tennessee Volunteers @ Kentucky Wildcats
  • Date And Time: February 3, 2024 @ 8:30 p.m. EST
  • Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY

Key Stats

Tennessee Volunteers (Averages)

Points: 78.5

Points Allowed: 65.9

Field Goal Efficiency: 27.3/61.2 for 44.6%

Three-Pont Efficiency: 8.5/25.1 for 33.7%

Free Throw Efficiency: 15.4/20.5 for 75.1%

Rebounds: 11.8 Offensive, 27.7 Defensive, 39.5 Combined

Assists: 16.8

Steals: 8.0

Blocks: 4.8

Turnovers: 10.6

Field Goal Efficiency Against: 21.9/58.2 for 37.5%

Three-Point Efficiency Against: 6.9/22.8 for 30.1%

Free Throw Efficiency Against: 13.0/18.1 for 71.6%

Rebounds Against: 10.6 Offensive, 24.0 Defensive, 34.6 Combined

Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off of a stunning loss against Sout Carolina, even though it was a home game for them. But they’ll have to put that behind them, as they now go to Rupp Arena to face John Calipari. However, even with this being a true road test, there are a lot of factors in their favor. This team plays better as a unit, additionally, they are more proven on the defensive end. This line likely results from the public underestimating this team, while also overemphasizing what will later be considered a letdown game against the Gamecocks.

Also, most importantly, this team has Dalton Knecht. He remains one of the best guards in the SEC even if Kentucky plays closer to full health, he’ll still be able to run the offense however he wants to. Knecht averages a little over 20 points a game, while also increasing his average to 25.4 ppg on the road! Betting against the Tennessee Volunteers means betting against Knecht, you may do so, however, at your peril.

Kentucky Wildcats (Averages)

Points: 88.7

Points Allowed: 77.2

Field Goal Efficiency: 32.3/66.0 for 48.9%

Three-Pont Efficiency: 9.9/24.7 for 40.1%

Free Throw Efficiency: 14.3/19.2 for 74.4%

Rebounds: 10.0 Offensive, 28.7 Defensive, 38.6 Combined

Assists: 18.0

Steals: 8.0

Blocks: 6.1

Turnovers: 9.9

Field Goal Efficiency Against: 27.2/64.8 for 41.9%

Three-Point Efficiency Against: 8.7/26.9 for 32.2%

Free Throw Efficiency Against: 14.2/20.3 for 70.1%

Rebounds Against: 11.7 Offensive, 26.1 Defensive, 37.8 Combined

The Kentucky Wildcats are also coming off of a setback. Their most recent game was a high-flying affair against Florida, but UK was unable to get a win in overtime. They have talent, but just like their last 94-91 loss indicates, they give up a lot of points. Ultimately, it will take some type of diving intervention for this squad to have a deep tournament run because of their lack of defensive production.

Also, they will be without one of their better players DJ Wagner against the Tennessee Volunteers. He’s listed as doubtful and because of this will likely not play today. However, they do receive some good news, as Justin Edwards appears ready to reenter the fray. But it will likely not be enough of a difference for their biggest weakness as a team.

Game Prediction

Edwards returning is not nearly enough for the spread to swing as much as it did. To justify that, Steph Curry would have needed to enter the lineup for tonight. Whatever may have caused the swing, it is a mistake. Tennessee is the better all-around team.  Also, they have one important player, Dalton Knecht. Additionally, his ability to take over any game will be on full display against this favorable matchup for the Tennessee Volunteers. However, the only way I can see Kentucky hanging on is if Knecht gets in early foul trouble. Because I think Tennessee will be able to control the game and pace through Knecht and their defense, Kentucky will likely struggle offensively, meaning hitting 159 total points will be hard to come by.

Final Pick

Under 158.5 and Tennessee Volunteers ML

About the Author

Gabriel is a lifelong sports fan. Pick a sport, and he’ll enjoy talking about it with you! From football to soccer, combat sports, and volleyball!  For more great content, check us out on X @TotalApexSports. Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we do several shows daily. You can follow Gabriel on Twitter @BigTenGabriel to enjoy all of his great content. Make sure you follow us on NewsBreak as well.

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