We have an action packed schedule on tap for you today with 37 college hoops games on the docket. Many of the nation’s top teams will play today, in what is shaping up to be an exciting day of college basketball. The headlining game comes to us from the Big 10, as the 10th ranked Wolverines of Michigan host the red-hot 16th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.
🆚: No. 16 Minnesota
📍: Ann Arbor, Mich.
🏟: Crisler Center
🕣: 8:30 p.m.
🏠: https://t.co/qVxyG9Kq38#GoBlue 〽️🏀 pic.twitter.com/29CmcRTUMz
— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) January 6, 2021
Other top games on the schedule today include Arkansas squaring off against Tennessee with both teams off to hot starts on the year. Virginia Tech and Louisville are a combined 15-2 on the season and play on the Cardinal’s home floor in the ACC. Wichita State and Houston will battle for first place in the AAC. And finally, Creighton hosts Setons Hall in a Big East battle between two NCAA tournament level teams.
Other top-25 teams in action today include Baylor hosting Oklahoma, Wake Forest traveling to Charlottesville to play the Virginia Cavaliers, and Duke against Boston College. As we get deeper into conference play, we are seeing these league title races tighten up significantly, and we should have a bunch of entertaining games this evening. For our free daily betting pick today, we will head to Knoxville, where the Tennessee Volunteers host the Arkansas Razorbacks.
- Arkansas Razorbacks (9-1) at Tennessee Volunteers (7-1)
- T-B Arena, Knoxville
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: ESPN2
The Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off of their first loss of the year in their last game and are hoping to get back on track tonight against the 9th ranked Volunteers of Tennessee. Eric Musselman brought in an elite recruiting class this year at Arkansas, and with it, have come heavy expectations. The Razorbacks won their first nine games of the season before dropping a home game to Missouri on Saturday. The schedule has been a soft one for Arkansas, and a win tonight at Tennessee would be the signature win of the year so far for the Razorbacks.
— ESPN2 6pm 🐗 (@RazorbackMBB) January 6, 2021
For Tennessee, the Volunteers have emerged as the team to beat in the SEC this year, and they too are coming off of their first loss of the season. The Vols lost at home to Alabama and now trail the upstart Tide for first place in the league standings. Tennessee already has top-100 wins over Missouri, Cincinnati, and Colorado and would love to add another one tonight with a win over Arkansas.
Arkansas Razorbacks (9-1)
Eric Musselman is absolutely the guy to turn things around at Arkansas. He made a big splash when he brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, and after turning Nevada-Reno into a juggernaut out West, he is ready to do the same thing with Arkansas down South. The Razorbacks jumped out to a 9-0 record, and while the schedule was quite soft, they didn’t play a single top-100 team in the non-conference, you still have to be impressed at how well Arkansas is playing.
Arkansas uses Musselman’s trademark fast pace and efficient offense to score 88 points a game, good for top-10 in the country. The Razorbacks have six players averaging at least nine points a game, giving them a balanced attack that is hard to stop. Where Arkansas really dominates games is in the paint, as they are one of the best rebounding and shot blocking teams in the nation.
Tennessee Volunteers (7-1)
In my estimation, no team in the SEC can win a national title this year besides Tennessee. That doesn’t mean they are going to dominate league play in a tough SEC and run away with the league title, but this Vols team has by far the highest ceiling in the conference. While the Razorbacks win most of their games by running up the score on offense, Tennessee prides itself on defense.
Entering play tonight, the Vols are the top-rated team on kenpom in terms of defensive efficiency, and prior to their last game where they gave up 71 points to Alabama, the Vos hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 66 points in any game and held teams under 60 points five times. Against Missouri, who was undefeated at 6-0 at the time, Tennessee held the Tigers to just 53 points in a blowout victory.
Who Do I Like?
While the Razorbacks like to score a lot of points, and Tennessee focuses on defense, these teams are actually fairly similar in how they play. Both teams crash the boards, take care of the basketball, and block a lot of shots. This game is going to be extremely physical tonight, and whichever team can dictate the pace of play, and win the battle in the paint, is going to win.
I am high on both of these teams, and while Arkansas is my favorite sleeper team in the SEC this year, I don’t think they are going to be able to win on the road tonight against a top-10 Tennessee team. That being said, nine points seems awfully high for this matchup, as both of these teams are really good. Kenpom was the Vols winning by seven points, and to be honest, I think it might even be closer than that.
Arkansas hasn’t beaten many good teams this year, and with their soft schedule, the data isn’t telling us that they are an elite team. But my eyeballs do, and I think that once the Razorbacks start to play solid competition in the SEC, they are going to win a lot of games that surprise people.
Don’t be shocked when Musselman has this team as a top-4 seed heading into the NCAA tournament. He was able to win a ton of games with castoffs in Reno, and now that he has all of this talent in Fayetteville, I expect big things from this program. Maybe it’s a year early, or maybe this team shocks the SEC this season ahead of pace, but at some point, this program is going to be considered a threat to win the league title.
This game is going to be won in the trenches. I think the Vols are going to do a good job of slowing the pace of this one down enough to keep it well under the total and to be able to get +9-points in a game that I expect to be lower scoring feels like a bargain. If Tennessee can’t keep Arkansas off of the offensive glass, they could be on upset alert tonight at home.
At the end of the day, I see Tennessee gutting out a hard-fought victory, but I just don’t see them being able to run up the score. The Razorbacks are strong everywhere, and they are going to be giving a full effort on the road tonight with a lot of national media attention. I am going to stop just short of calling an outright upset, but I will back the ‘backs, getting way too many points. Give me the Arkansas Razorbacks tonight, getting +9-points as they go into Knoxville and give the Vols all they can handle!