Texas vs Tennessee Basketball Prediction & Picks: Are Horns, Vols set for another low-scoring clash?
For the second straight season, Rick Barnes will face the program he led for 17 seasons, as his #4 Tennessee Volunteers will face off with the #4 Texas Longhorns at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville (6:00 pm ET, ESPN).
The matchup between the future SEC foes is the only one on today’s college basketball schedule that features two ranked teams. It is also one of three Big 12/SEC Challenge matchups that is a rematch from last season, along with Iowa State-Missouri and Kansas-Kentucky.
Like those matchups, this one is at the SEC team’s venue after being played at the Big 12 team’s venue last season, and it will be the Vols who will be looking to hold serve at home this time around after the Longhorns eked out a 52-51 win in last year’s contest.
Both teams currently occupy prominent positions in both the national rankings and in their conference standings, and both are eyeing a high March Madness seed, with Tennessee currently in position for a #1 seed as per ESPN’s latest Bracketology update.
A win would be a big addition to each team’s NCAA Tournament resume, but who will get it? Read on for our Texas vs Tennessee basketball prediction and picks.
Texas vs Tennessee Odds
Odds are via FanDuel as of Saturday, January 28, 2023, at 1:55 pm ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended legal sports betting sites.
- Texas +5.5 (-105)
- Tennessee -5.5 (-115)
- Over 132.5 (-110)
- Under 132.5 (-110)
- Texas +198
- Tennessee -245
Will Tennessee’s Defensive Prowess Keep Texas at Bay?
If you are into high-scoring games, there are a number of games on today’s college basketball schedule that will likely fulfill your needs.
This will almost certainly not be one of them, but we’re not here to discuss the entertainment aspect of this matchup, so I digress.
Tennessee leads the country in defensive efficiency, and the surface stats back it up.
- Points Allowed Per Game: 53.7 (1st in Division I)
- Opponent Field Goal Percentage: 33.9% (1st in Division I)
- Opponent Three-Point Field Goal Percentage: 21.6% (1st in Division I)
- Opponent Two-Point Field Goal Percentage: 42.8% (5th in Division I)
- Turnovers Forced Per Game: 17.1 (14th in Division I)
The Vols have given up 60 or more points just five times in 20 games, and they are coming off of a 70-41 win over Georgia in which they surrendered a season-low in points. Overall, it was the eighth time that Tennessee has allowed under 50 points this season.
But can Tennessee score enough against quality opposition when it matters? That tripped them up in the NCAA Tournament last season, and it will be what makes or breaks a potential deep run this season as well.
Last season’s game at Texas highlighted that concern, and today’s rematch will be an opportunity to make a real statement.
Last year, after trailing 27-25 at halftime, the Vols scored just seven points in the first 13 minutes of the second half, enabling the Horns to take a 49-32 lead.
From there, Tennessee made a ferocious rally to tie the game at 51 late, and they had opportunities to go ahead then win the game in the final minute but failed to convert either time. In the end, the Horns emerged victorious thanks to Timmy Allen’s free throw with six seconds left.
Texas vs Tennessee Prediction and Picks
Texas vs Tennessee Prediction: Tennessee to win
Texas vs Tennessee Picks: Tennessee -5.5 (Best Value: BetRivers) & Texas team total under 64.5 (BetRivers)
Texas is playing faster and playing a lot differently than they did last season, and they rank higher in offensive efficiency (12th) than they do in defensive efficiency (27th) as a result.
A big leap from Marcus Carr has been key, with the senior averaging 17.6 PPG and shooting better from the field overall (46.5%, up from 39.4%) and from three (41.5%, up from 33.8%).
When Carr has led the team in scoring this season, the Longhorns are a perfect 9-0, and they have scored 70+ points in seven of those games.
If he can have a big game, the Longhorns may well have a chance to come away with the win.
That said, Tennessee would be all too happy to let Carr do his thing and put the clamps on everyone else, which is how things went for Baylor against Kansas on Monday. Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick combined for 47 points, but all of the other Jayhawks tallied only 22 in Baylor’s 75-69 win.
Ultimately, it is hard to see anything other than a Tennessee win here. There’s still legitimate reason to be concerned about whether or not the Vols will have what it takes to win in March, and those concerns will follow Rick Barnes until one of his teams actually achieves its full potential.
But in the regular season, I’m pretty happy to back the Vols to win these games against anyone other than a handful of teams. Texas is not one of those teams.