Kentucky Wildcats vs Tennesee Vols NCAAB Preview (Tuesday Feb 2)
The Kentucky Wildcats slide over the border to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville on Tuesday night. Both of these teams are coming out of games in the SEC-Big 12 challenge. The Wildcats fell at Kansas, 90-84, and the Volunteers absorbed a 75-63 beating at unheralded (in basketball) TCU. Click here to view our NCAAB lines.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 1, 2016
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Why should you bet on Kentucky?
You can expect the Wildcats to have plenty of anger to work out on Tuesday night. They had slipped all the way to #20 in the rankings after suffering four losses, and they saw the game at Kansas as a chance to right their reputation and start moving back up, both in the rankings and in their own estimation.
It had looked like Kentucky would pull off the road win over #4 Kansas, as they were up eight points midway through the second half. However, the Jayhawks switched to a triangle-and-2 defense to shut down guard Tyler Ulis and then set about whittling down the lead. Kansas finally tied the game at 76 with a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining, and then Kansas dominated overtime for the win. Kentucky will see Wayne Selden’s overtime dunk over freshman Skal Labissiere in their nightmares in the coming weeks as March Madness approaches, and his seven points in overtime keyed the Jayhawk win. So the Volunteers can expect to feel all of that frustration coming on Tuesday.
Why would you bet on Tennessee?
With Rick Barnes coaching the Volunteers now, you can expect Tennessee to stay competitive more and more frequently as time goes by. He built the University of Texas into a regular contender — not a small feat in a state that worships the pigskin — and now he is doing the same in Knoxville. Right now, the Vols sit in 10th place in the SEC, but if Kentucky does not come out ready to play, the Volunteers could make them pay. When they headed to TCU this past weekend, the Volunteers jumped out to a lead that grew as big as 14 points, but TCU stormed back to win at home. Both Tennessee and TCU sport 10-11 records after the game, showing you two programs who are struggling to compete in tough basketball conferences. So if Kentucky is still feeling the doldrums from their loss to Kansas, Tennessee could take advantage.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
There are times when road games in the SEC are potential traps, even for elite teams in the conference. I’m not looking to Tuesday’s matchup to provide one of those examples, though. John Calipari’s group is a proud bunch, and they have had a difficult time working the kinks out against elite competition — but not against teams in the lower tier of the SEC. Kentucky will come into the game with a cinder block on their collective shoulders, and I expect they will work out their frustrations on the Volunteers. I’m picking Kentucky to win, 80-58.