It’s been a roller coaster of a season for the Arkansas Razorbacks, a legitimate contender who has suffered injuries throughout the course of the season. With that said, it’s still impressive that they have maintained title contender metrics while waving through the storm, now getting a chance to take down a top-25 opponent in Tennessee. Speaking of the Vols, life has not been easy as of late by dropping four of their last six. Can they get back on track as a premier powerhouse with a big win on their home court?
Arkansas Vs. Tennessee Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Vols as a -7 favorite on their own home court. Bettors think elsewise, backing the Razorbacks down to +6.5 in some shops as of writing. Projections have this number about fare given the home court advantage, making this an immediate pass for me. The Razorbacks are also tough to back as their offense has been prone to anemic stalled out lulls due to the lack of continuity, giving the Vols a chance to pull ahead late in the contest.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 134. In a curious act, bettors are actually hitting the over early on which I did not anticipate happening. So far, they have taken the over up to 135 with the possibility of it continuing to rise as we near tip off. This brings intrigue to me as both offenses are as flat as it gets while still fielding very respectable defenses. Arkansas’s pace gives me some pause, but the Vols are well equipped to handle a fast style of offense.
Arkansas Vs. Tennessee Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Wait on the under
With that said, I am going to pass on the total for now and see how high this number can climb before taking a position on the under. This has been a common theme for me on games I have wagered on involving Tennessee as the public believes their offense can turn it around and find some scoring consistency. Until that happens over a stretch of time, I will continue to hit their unders as we now also get the benefit of them going against a very good Razorback defense. A defense that currently ranks 10th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.
While offensive consistency has been practically non-existent for Arkansas, their defense has maintained impressive metrics throughout the course of the season. They are long, athletic, and can cover gaps at a moment’s notice. They are in a prime opportunity to show out once again as Tennessee runs at a snail’s pace in an effort to find a quality shot. Especially in the interior as Arkansas ranks as one of the best defensive units in defensive effective field goal percentage. This potentially negates the Vols scoring consistency in the interior as they look to abuse the inside at a high clip.
Should Arkansas’s defense hold serve in the interior, this then dares the Vols to try and shoot over the top of them. A feat that plays towards our under tickets hands as Tennessee is a poor shooting unit. They currently shoot 43.2% from the field and a putrid 32.5% from the perimeter. The Vols pace also does them no favors as they rank 270th in Adjusted Tempo, seemingly allowing Arkansas to set up their halfcourt defense with ease.
Arkansas Vs. Tennessee Key Matchups
Will Arkansas be able to round back into form on offense against the Vols elite defense?
Nick Smith Jr vs Tennessee perimeter defense
The return of Nick Smith Jr has been a welcoming sight for the Razorback offense as they have lacked versatility on multiple levels of the court. He brings a three point shooting presence, as well as being able to score with his own play making ability.
That bodes well for a Razorback unit that ranked 48th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency as they currently look lost at times while trying to find scoring production in the interior.
While the return of Smith Jr may pose a threat on offense, I believe the Arkansas offensive struggles will continue against the best defense in the nation. Smith Jr is still trying to integrate himself into the flow of things, now going against a unit that is near the top of the nation in two-point and three-point defense.
I will pass on this for now as I will want to see how high this total can climb before taking a position on the under.