The best game on the NCAA hoops calendar this weekend is a top-five SEC showdown between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee has yet to lose a game in SEC play so far this season, and sit in first place with a record of 11-0. Kentucky has fallen into third place in the SEC after losing to LSU earlier in the week. The Wildcats bring a 9-2 SEC record into this game but still have a chance to win the league with a strong finish.
Tennessee comes in as the top-ranked team in college basketball, but the Duke Blue Devils are right on their heels. If the Volunteers want to stay in the top spot, they are going to have to pull off a win in one of the toughest places to play in Rupp Arena. Kentucky comes into this game with a number 5 ranking, but a second loss this week will likely drop them out of the top 10. The Volunteers are 3.0 point road underdogs in this matchup with Kentucky.
Tennessee Has Plenty of Depth
The biggest reason for the terrific season for Tennessee so far this season has been their incredible depth. The Volunteers certainly have plenty of stars, but they have been able to overwhelm opponents with the talent on their roster. Tennessee is scoring better than 85 points per game this season, and they love to push the pace on offense. With five different players averaging double-figures in points, the Volunteers can beat opponents in a variety of ways.
The Volunteers have four guards who do most of the scoring, but the biggest start this season has been forward Grant Williams. Williams is pouring close to 20 points per game, while also grabbing a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. Kentucky will be forced to put a lot of attention on Williams, which should leave players like Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bowden open. Schofield and Bowden are both shooting 40 percent from three and can be deadly if they are given time to shoot. Head coach Rick Barnes has built a terrific roster full of talented scoring options.
Big Stage For Kentucky’s Freshmen
Kentucky head coach John Calipari has once again assembled a talented roster of talented freshmen, and they have gone through some growing pains this season. The Wildcats have gotten up to number five in the country but had a disappointing loss at home earlier this week. Kentucky does do one thing extremely well, and that is defense. The Wildcats are allowing just 65.5 points per game this season. Calipari knows that his team can’t keep with the Tennessee offense, and they will likely try to slow this game down. Forward Nick Richards leads the team with 1.4 blocks per game and will be forced to defend Williams in this game.
Sophomore forward PJ Washington has emerged as the top scoring threat for Kentucky this season, but he has gotten plenty of help from a couple of freshmen guards. Washington leads the team with 14.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season but will be facing a huge challenge against Tennessee. Guards Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro have combined to pour in better than 27 points per game in support of Washington, and are both capable of making a three-point shot. The Kentucky offense will need to play well to win this game.
Tennessee Stays Perfect in SEC Play
Kentucky is the favorite in this game solely because the game is being played at Rupp Arena. Playing at home didn’t help the Wildcats earlier this week against LSU, and it won’t help them against Tennessee. The Volunteers are absolutely loaded on offense, and they will find enough points to steal a road win. This should be a close game, but Tennessee is winning it. Bet Tennessee +3.0 in this game.