Kentucky will travel to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon for a top-25 SEC showdown.

Both teams have something to fight for in this game. Kentucky can clinch a double-bye in the SEC Tournament with a victory, and the Vols are still trying to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

These teams met earlier this season in Lexington — a game the Vols won 103-92.

Let’s dig into the details of this matchup:

Kentucky vs. Tennessee  Betting Odds

Spread: Tennessee -7.5 (FanDuel) 

Total: Over/Under 166.5 points (FanDuel) 

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Betting trends to know for Kentucky

Kentucky is…

  • 17-13 against the spread
  • 6-3 against the spread on the road
  • 5-1 against the spread as an underdog
  • 9-8 against the spread in SEC games

Betting trends to know for Tennessee 

Tennessee  is…

  • 16-13-1 against the spread
  • 10-4-1 against the spread at home
  • 14-10-1 against the spread as the favorite
  • 11-6 against the spread in SEC games

3 notes for the game

Tennessee has been playing like a Final Four contender

There aren’t many programs who have been better than Tennessee over the last 5 weeks or so. The Vols have won 9 of their last 10 games, a stretch that includes 3 road victories over NCAA Tournament hopefuls. One of those wins came against Kentucky back on Feb. 3. in Lexington.

Since Feb. 1, Tennessee has been the No. 3 team in the country according to BartTorvik’s model (behind only UConn and Arizona). The Vols have the No. 17 offense and the No. 3 defense during that stretch.

The Vols have already clinched the outright regular-season SEC title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. Tennessee has never made the Final Four in program history, but is playing like a team focused on changing that this march as it prepares for its regular season finale vs. Kentucky.

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Can Tennessee’s supporting cast have a repeat performance?

Usually when Tennessee’s offense has a great night, it’s because Dalton Knecht went off. Knecht is the front-runner for SEC Player of the Year and has regularly scored 30+ points this season.

However, that was not the case when the Vols torched Kentucky for 103 points earlier this year. Knecht scored just 16 points on an uncharacteristic 5-of-14 shooting performance. But his teammates more than picked up the slack — Zakai Ziegler and Josiah-Jordan James scored 26 points a piece, representing season-highs for both players. Santiago Vescovi and Jonas Aidoo also scored in double-figures.

Tennessee is likely not going to get 52 points out of Zeigler and James again, but the Wildcats will do their best to make players other than Knecht beat them.

Kentucky’s shooting prowess means the ‘Cats can play with anybody

Kentucky is perhaps the best shooting team in the country. The Wildcats are elite from 3-point range, as they’ve hit 40.8% of their attempts from deep this year. They’re also efficient from the mid-range, with Antonio Reeves, Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham all excelling in that area. 

UK’s offense is good enough to keep it involved in virtually any game, and that includes this one against Tennessee. Kentucky scored 1.24 points per possession against Tennessee’s elite defense in their meeting back in February. That would be enough to win on a lot of nights in the SEC, but UT’s offense had a particularly good night in Lexington and poured in 1.39 points per possession.

Tennessee has the 2nd-best effective field goal percentage defense in the country, which makes this a particularly-enticing matchup. Per KenPom, Tennessee is top-20 nationally in 3-point percentage defense, 2-point percentage defense and block percentage.

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1 pick for this game

Tennessee -7.5. In the SEC standings, this is a meaningless game for Tennessee — it has already locked up the outright title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. But it’s senior night in Knoxville, and the Vols are also still in a tight battle with Arizona for the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A win in this spot for Tennessee would give it a healthy lead over Arizona going into conference tournament week. I think Tennessee will be plenty motivated for this game and should win convincingly. 

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