It was heartbreak for the Auburn Tigers as they fell flat late in an overtime loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. They now get a chance for redemption on the last Saturday slate of the year, battling it out against the Tennessee Volunteers. After opening as a slight underdog, Auburn now sits as a slight favorite. Poised to redeem themselves, look for Auburn to finish the season with a win.
Auburn Vs. Tennessee Odds
As previously mentioned, the Auburn Tigers are now a slight favorite after opening as a +1.5 underdog. This actually comes as a bit of surprise from a recency bias standpoint as the Volunteers offense finally showed some life against a tough Razorback defense. Auburn’s deflating performance in their previous contest is worrisome heading into this one, playing back into their anemic offensive ways that lead to a scoring lull to allow Alabama to storm back late in the second half.
Speaking of offense, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 132.5. Bettors believe defense will take the main stage on both ends of the court as they have hit the under down to 131.5 as of writing. Defense has been the lone bright spot for the Tigers, maintaining a top-25 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rank per Kenpom throughout the course of the season. Should the Vols play back towards their sluggish offensive ways, Auburn will be poised to hold the Vols to plenty of stalled out possessions.
Auburn Vs. Tennessee Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Auburn moneyline
I am backing the money movement in this one, taking the Tigers moneyline as they are in desperation mode as they creep back towards the bubble. Their offense exploded early on in their recent contest against Bama, an impressive showing as the Crimson Tide are sneakily a great defensive unit. Overshadowed by their high powered fast paced offense, the Crimson Tide silently rank sixth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Auburn managed to pull this off by finding life from beyond the perimeter, stretching out the length of the Bama defense. After a hot start from deep, this allowed the Tigers playmakers to continue the damage by cutting into the interior. This is a sharp contrast from what we have been accustomed to from Auburn, currently ranking 74th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom. Another tough defense is on deck as Tennessee has been the best defense in the league all season.
Well-earned as well, holding opponents from all areas of the court. Coach Rick Barnes has the Vols flying to the ball throughout the full course of the game, holding opponents to a league best Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage per TeamRankings. They clock in at 41.1% from the field, a full percentage point higher than the second-place team which is the Crimson Tide at 42.2%. A brunt of their total shooting defense success comes from their ability to lock up the perimeter, holding opponents to 25.1% from deep. A league best metric per TeamRankings.
The ability to generate offense from deep brings some cause for concern in this matchup as stretching out the Vols defense will be vital to generate higher quality looks in the interior. Continuing their uptick in pace will go a long way in scrambling the Vols defenders, opening up holes for the Tigers offense to exploit in transition. Their pace of play has been average throughout the course of the season, but the increase in speed has proven to be successful in a faster stretch as Alabama pushed the envelope on them.
Auburn Vs. Tennessee Key Matchups
Can the Tigers hold the Vols newfound life on offense?
Auburn perimeter defense vs Tennessee scoring output
If the Vols are able to keep up their recent offensive success, then they are poised for a deep run come tournament time. Until then, I am backing the idea of their offensive lulls biting them in late game stretches.
Auburn’s defense has been a consistent force to deal with throughout the course of the season, stretching out the interior and forcing units to shoot over the top of them.
Tennessee has run as a well below average unit from the perimeter, averaging a lowly 32.3% from deep. Losing Zakai Zeigler for the rest of the year hurts as well, missing out on their third best scorer in points per game.
Hopefully avoiding a deflated situational spot, I will still back the Tigers on the moneyline as this is a must win situation in order to keep their tournament spot secured.