(11-2, 2-8 ATS)
(9-4, 5-7 ATS)
Both the Tennessee Volunteers and the Memphis Tigers have had their trials and tribulations in NCAA basketball betting action this year, but both know that they can take a huge step in the right direction by beating the college basketball odds on Wednesday night in the second half of an ESPN2 double dip.
The Tigers finally got Wesley Witherspoon back in the lineup two weeks ago, but they really haven’t gotten the best out of their star yet. Sure, he did drop 28 points and 14 boards on the Lipscomb Bison in the final game of 2010, but he only has three points in each of his other two games against the Tennessee State Tigers and the Georgetown Hoyas. The team is 0-3 ATS in its L/3 with him in the lineup and is 1-6 ATS in its L/7. All told though, it isn’t the offense that is letting the Tigers down. The defense has been dreadful this year by its standards, allowing 70.3 points per game, ranking just No. 235 in the nation. This has to be a team that is worrying about making the NCAA Tournament this year even though the field has been expanded just a bit, as Conference USA is a much improved conference this year, and there are already seven teams with at least ten wins on the campaign and probably will be five teams that finish with 20 wins, all of which won’t get into the dance.
Tennessee has to be wondering about where it stands right now in relation to the NCAA Tournament as well. The Volunteers really haven’t played well this year, particularly at home, losing games to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, USC Trojans, and Charleston Cougars all at home and the Charlotte 49ers on the road, all of which have happened since December 14th. All of a sudden, this duel, the last before SEC play gets started, feels like a game that really has to be won in order to get back in good standing and on the right side of the bubble coming into the SEC season. Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris really have to put this team on their respective backs to get the job done here in Rocky Top this year. Hopson, the always dependable star for Head Coach Bruce Pearl, is averaging a team high 16.4 points per game this year. Harris, just a freshman, is at 15.0 points per game, but at times, he has been off of his game. Harris does have six straight double digit scoring games, but he often requires a ton of shots to get his points, and it often bogs the offense down quite a bit.
Still, the sense of urgency really has to be here for Tennessee. The Vols know that they are going to be in a decent spot again if they can take this one down, and that’s exactly what we think is going to happen against a Memphis team that really isn’t all that much better than anyone else is in its conference.
NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Tennessee Volunteers -5.5