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Chris Walkers Insider: NCAA Basketball Volunteers vs Tigers

Cross-State Rivals – Tennessee Volunteers at Memphis Tigers

Two cross-state rivals will square off this Saturday when they meet at Bridgestone Arena. Before Tuesday, I thought Tennessee would beat the breaks off Memphis. But after watching the Memphis Tigers take down the sixth ranked Crimson Tide, I’m not as confident in that. Memphis started the season with a nice five game winning streak. Albeit against inferior competition, but five wins is five wins.

It seemed like the team started to read their own press clippings and thought they were so good they could just go through the motions and still win. They proceeded to lose their next four after that. All as the favorite, and three of which they were double-digit favorites. Then the Bama game happened. The Tide rolled into the FedEx Forum and proceeded to get handled from start to finish. That game is an example of Penny Hardaway doing what he does best. Hardaway is not a very good coach, but he is a master motivator. He also hates Rick Barnes. There is no doubt in my mind that Hardaway will get his team ready for the game on Saturday.

You never really know which Tennessee Volunteers team you will get. You could get the team who ran UNC out of the gym, or the team who scored just 52 points in an OT loss to Texas Tech. It’s no secret that they are a defense first team, ranking 16 in the country in scoring defense. But if their shots aren’t falling, it is very tough for them to win. You’re probably saying to yourself “well duh,” but the Vols have shot at least 42.9% from the field in all of their wins. In their two losses, they shot 33.3% (Villanova) and 26.8% (Texas Tech). It may be difficult for Memphis to keep them under that 40% mark seeing as they rank 196 in scoring defense.

Tennessee has easily been the better team this season, but you can’t count out this Memphis team. They are loaded with young talent and Hardaway will no doubt have them ready to go in this game. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers will be a little hungover from their win against Bama, or if that win will spark a run going forward. As for the Vols, they have a good mix of young and veteran talent, and have multiple ways of getting shots off. They also take pride in being able to smother you on defense.

I’m not sure if Memphis has the horses to hang with Tennessee for a full game. I expect a rock fight in the first half, but I like the Vols to pull away in the second and cover the -5.5 spread. 

Final Score Prediction: Tennessee 71-Memphis 63

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* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021