#18 Tennessee at Texas Odds, Best Bets & Prediction

BetQL breaks down the matchup between Tennessee and Texas

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#18 Tennessee at Texas Preview

This weekend’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge includes a game between the Texas Longhorns and the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers. All eyes will be on longtime Texas coach Rick Barnes, who will be taking his Volunteers to his old stomping grounds in hopes of stealing a road win on behalf of the SEC.

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Tennessee Volunteers Preview

Much like Texas, the Volunteers endured a rough patch not too long ago, losing three of five games, including an embarrassing blowout at the hands of Kentucky. But Tennessee has responded to that loss with three straight wins to get to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in SEC play. That stretch includes a top-25 win over LSU, although the Vols are just 2-3 in true road games this season.

It’s been the Tennessee backcourt leading the charge with the Vols winning three in a row. Santiago Vescovi has quickly turned into one of the most feared outside shooters in the SEC. After scoring 23 points against Florida on Wednesday, he’s now averaging 14.6 points per game and shooting close to 40% from the perimeter. The freshman point guard has become just as important for Tennessee, averaging 13.5 points and 4.9 assists per game to pace the Tennessee attack. He’s also become one of the best on-ball defenders in the SEC, racking up 2.2 steals per game. The Volunteers even have some decent depth behind Vescovi and Chandler. Fellow freshman Zakai Ziegler is still learning but has scored 11 points in three of his last five games. Josiah-Jordan James has become more consistent during SEC play and a useful rebounder as a bigger guard. Justin Powell also adds another outside shooter to the Tennessee rotation.

However, the Vols are still trying to piece things together in the frontcourt. John Fulkerson has been steady for most of the season but hasn’t been the impact scorer in the post that he’s been in the past. That’s been a problem with Oliver Nkamhoua’s scoring dropping off during SEC play. The Volunteers thought they had something with Uros Plavsic after he had big games against Vanderbilt and LSU, but he failed to keep it going against Florida. Freshman Brandon Huntley-Hartfield has also struggled to make much of an impact during conference play, which has forced the Vols to stick with Fulkerson and just hope that Nkamhoua or Plavsic can give them something.

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Texas Longhorns Preview

Not long ago, Texas looked to be in a little bit of trouble, falling out of the top-25. But the Longhorns have quickly turned things around with back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and TCU. The 73-50 road win over TCU earlier this week was particularly impressive. However, while Texas is in good shape at 15-5 overall, the Longhorns are about to play five straight ranked teams, a stretch that will tell us a lot about Texas.

More consistent guard play has helped the Longhorns turn things around in their last two games. There is considerable upside with the trio of Marcus Carr, Courtney Ramey, and Andrew Jones. While Jones struggled in the win over Oklahoma State, all three played well against TCU, making all of the difference in the world. Carr has also seen an uptick in his performance, averaging 16.3 points per game over his last four games. Ramey has also hit double figures in four of his last seven games, getting on track in January after a disappointing stretch in December. The Longhorns are also holding out hope that they can get a little more out of Kentucky freshman Devin Askew, who could become an X-factor coming off the bench during the second part of the season.

Of course, Texas is a team that prefers to play a big lineup, rotating several tall and athletic forwards. Timmy Allen is the leader of the group, as well as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. He plays bigger than his 6’6’’ frame and is fresh off a 16-point, eight-rebound performance against TCU. Tre Mitchell and Christian Bishop also log heavy minutes for the Longhorns, helping defensively and on the boards. However, both can be a little erratic with their offensive contributions despite Mitchell averaging 9.2 points per game. Dylan Dish and Brock Cunningham add further depth to the Texas frontcourt, although players aren’t big scorers, which is why the Longhorns need their three primary guards to be firing on all cylinders.

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#18 Tennessee at Texas Prediction

With Texas picking up steam with back-to-back wins, this figures to be a tricky road game for the Volunteers. However, one could argue that Tennessee’s two starting guards have become more reliable than the Texas trio of guards. The Vols also have a little more depth in the backcourt than Texas. That should put Tennessee in contention for a road win, although each team’s inconsistent frontcourt could be an X-factor both ways.

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