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Last updated: Jan 26, 11:54 PM UTC
Jonathon has been covering college basketball for over five years. In this time, he has covered the sport with daily bracket updates, college basketball handicapping, and articles recapping the games. He is also a commentator on many of the games and breaks down much of what happens on a daily basis.
Tennessee Volunteers @ Kentucky Wildcats (Saturday, 15 January)
This week’s marquee matchup sees the #22-ranked Tennessee Volunteers heading into Lexington to take on the #18 Kentucky Wildcats in a matchup of two of the SEC’s best programs.
The Volunteers have been ranked all season, but have had a slow start in SEC play. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the sport, only allowing 61.7 points per game and being Top-5 in defensive efficiency per KenPom, but their offense has not caught up. Kennedy Chandler was a projected lottery pick preseason but has been inconsistent, as has John Fulkerson, who scored 24 points to help the Vols beat a Top-5 Arizona team, but has since had scoring outputs of three and five points.
The talent around those two is solid. Oliver Nkamhoua and Zakai Ziegler have both been better than expected, while the length and athleticism around the perimeter give opponents fits, while it allows the Volunteers to turn teams over and get points from their defense. The make-or-break skill is three-point shooting, the team has been inefficient to start the season but they’re a hot shooting night from being able to beat anyone.
Kentucky comes into this game starting to round into form, seemingly just as everyone is figuring out their roles. Oscar Tshiebwe has been dominant around the paint, leading college basketball in rebounding. His relentlessness on the glass allows him to score from missed shots, plus pretty much ensures that the opponent is limited to one shot per possession. TyTy Washington Jr has also found a bigger role in the offense, he’s been playing more on the ball, being both a facilitator and a scorer, which has brought out the best in him.
The status of point guard Sahvir Wheeler will be in doubt, as he suffered a neck injury against LSU, which will be something to monitor. This Kentucky team seemingly has very few holes. They have Kellan Grady, who has fit in perfectly as a shooter, they have interior scoring thanks to Oscar Tshiebwe, and they are good defensively. Kentucky doesn’t have any quality wins to date but will be able to change that should they beat Tennessee.
The Wildcats are rightfully favorites in this game, but there are a couple of ways that Tennessee can pull off the upset. First and foremost, they must limit Oscar Tshiebwe. Tennessee has the size and physicality to match up with him, but can’t let him dominate on the boards like he has all season. Secondly, they need to make perimeter shots, certainly, they have the ability to do so, but for them to win at Rupp Arena they must make shots.
In what will be a really fun throwback game, where physicality, energy, and toughness will be a common theme, it is hard to pick against the Wildcats. The Volunteers have the talent to win, but too many things will have to go right for them to pull off the upset. In the end, Kentucky will have the consistent shot-making, rebounding, and defense to win this game and cover the spread.
- Kentucky to cover the spread
- Kentucky-Tennessee Under
- America East
- All Divisions
|2 Stony Brook||4-1||12||6||.667||9-1||3-5||0-0||7-10-0||12-5-0|
|6 New Hampshire||2-3||7||7||.500||6-0||1-7||0-0||7-5-0||4-8-0|
|8 Massachusetts Lowell||2-4||10||8||.556||6-2||4-6||0-0||6-9-0||5-10-0|
Last updated: Jan 26, 11:25 PM UTC
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