It is an action-packed day for college hoops today, as we have all of the best conferences in the nation in action. In the SEC Florida plays at Georgia, with both teams looking to move up from the middle of the pack in the league standings. Texas A&M plays at Ole Miss in a game between two teams desperately trying to play themselves into the NCAA tournament bubble conversation.
The marquee matchup in the SEC today comes to us from Knoxville, as the Tennessee Volunteers play host to the Missouri Tigers, with both teams ranked in the top-25 nationally. Other games from the SEC include Kentucky hosting LSU and Mississippi State traveling to Tuscaloosa to play the red-hot Alabama Crimson Tide. In the Big 10, Maryland plays Minnesota, Northwestern plays Penn State, and Ohio State plays at Wisconsin.
Dome defended. 🍊✊ pic.twitter.com/SnQtU7MgWw
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 23, 2021
The ACC has a full slate of games on tap for today as Syracuse already started the day with a win over 16th ranked Virginia Tech. Virginia will try to stay undefeated in league play against an upstart Georgia Tech team. Pittsburgh is looking to keep up their surprising start with another league win at Wake Forest. The Louisville Cardinals host a struggling Duke Blue Devils team, and they would love to kick their rivals while they are down. Coach K’s team has lost back-to-back games in ACC play, and they have fallen from the top-25 nationally after starting the season out ranked in the top-10.
Other games from the ACC today include North Carolina hosting N.C. State and Florida State playing Clemson in a game that could have league title implications, with the Seminoles in second place in the standings entering play today. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will check in on the action down south, where the Tennessee Volunteers square off against the Missouri Tigers.
- Missouri Tigers (9-2) at Tennessee Volunteers (10-2)
- T-B Arena, Knoxville
- 5:30 PM PST
- TV: SECN
The Tennessee Volunteers are looking to shake off their last game, a beat down at the hands of the Florida Gators, tonight, as they host the Missouri Tigers in an SEC conference game. The Vols were neck and neck with the Alabama Crimson Tide for first place before no-showing in Gainesville and dropping to two full games back of ‘Bama for first place. Despite playing in one of the toughest leagues in the nation, the SEC, the Volunteers only have three quality victories on their resume.
GAMEDAY at Tennessee.
— Mizzou Hoops (@MizzouHoops) January 23, 2021
For Missouri, the Tigers want to avenge their early season loss to Tennessee and avoid the season sweep to the Vols, with a win tonight on the road. Missouri has played a brutal schedule, and a win tonight over Tennessee would look great alongside their wins over Oregon, Wichita State, Illinois, Arkansas, and South Carolina.
Missouri Tigers (9-2)
The Missouri Tigers might be the most balanced team in the SEC. There is no single star on this Tigers team, and they use a balanced attack with 4 players averaging double-digit scoring. They play hard-nosed defense and efficient offense, and that has led to a lot of success for Cuonzo Martin and his Tigers. After coming into the season expected to finish in the bottom half of the SEC, and a bubble team at best, the Tigers are quickly turning into a team that is being feared in conference play.
The Tigers have fared well on the road this season as they have true road game victories over Wichita State, Arkansas, and Texas A&M. Winning on the road, particularly in league play, is the toughest thing to do in college basketball, and right now, Missouri is getting the job done in hostile territory. The leader on the floor for Missouri is junior Xavier Pinson. Pinson has a season-high 23-points in the upset win at Arkansas, but has played poorly as of late, scoring just 4.5-points per game in his last two games. If Missouri wants any shot at shocking the world in this one, they need their top scorer to get going again.
Tennessee Volunteers (10-2)
Similarly to Missouri, it is a full team effort for the Tennessee Volunteers this season. They don’t have a superstar, rather just a blue-collar team that does what it takes to win basketball games. Rick Barnes is a heck of a basketball coach, and for a guy that has a slew of second-weekend appearances and even a Final Four on his resume, this might be one of the best overall teams he has ever coached. Barnes has taken teams to the NCAA tournament a whopping 20 times in his head coaching career and knows how to win basketball games.
When you watch Tennessee play, they absolutely look like a top-15 type of team. The data loves the Vols as they block shots, rebound, pass the ball well, and don’t turn it over much. But when you look at who they have played, it makes you wonder how well those stats are going to hold up now that the schedule is about to get tough.
The Vols schedule was backloaded, and they have games coming up against Kansas, LSU, and Florida, as well as games against teams trending in the right direction like Auburn and this Missouri team. I’m not saying I am expecting Tennessee to start losing a bunch of games, but I also don’t know if I see them continuing to steamroll the competition like they have so far this year.
Who Do I Like?
This is going to be a closer basketball game than most people think. It’s easy to look at the first game between these two teams, where Tennessee pounded the Tigers on their own floor, and expect Tennessee to do the same tonight in Knoxville. But in that game, Missouri was absolutely terrible shooting the basketball.
They hit just 18% of their 3’s, and while they aren’t an elite 3-point shooting team, they are far better than they showed in that game. They also missed 12 free throws in that first matchup, and had they shot closer to their respectable season average from the charity stripe, that game would have been much closer.
It is always really hard to beat a team twice in a season. Especially in league play, where these teams know each other so well, blowing a team out twice in the same year just doesn’t happen all that often, and when it does, it rarely happens in matchups like this one, between two good teams. The Tigers turned it over 21 times in the earlier loss to Tennessee, and they are going to have to take much better care of the basketball tonight in this one to keep it close, but that is exactly what I see happening.
You can expect Missouri to play much better tonight than they did in the first meeting between these two teams. Missouri has had a couple of games where they just didn’t play well, but with wins over teams like Illinois and Oregon, they showed that they can compete with top-25 level teams. I see this game being low scoring, as both teams play good defense, and I doubt either team hits 70 points tonight.
In a game that should be low scoring, getting +8.5-points is a lot of points. This is just one of those spots where I can’t pass up on the value of getting a team as good as Missouri, getting so many points, in what should be such a low scoring game. The Vols will win, but Missouri is going to make them earn it and cover the spread along the way. Give me the Missouri Tigers tonight, getting +8.5-points as they keep it close enough to cover in Knoxville!