Kentucky vs. Tennessee Predictions, Odds, Preview

Feb. 20, 2021
Thom Cunningham
NCAA BK Expert

SEC action on Saturday sees the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Tip for this conference game is set for 1 p.m. (ET) and will air on CBS.


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Kentucky-Tennessee Betting Odds

  • Spread: Tennessee -6
  • Money-Line: TBD
  • Total: 130.5

Odds Subject to Change

Tennessee is the home favorite which is not too surprising, given a -6-point spread. The Vols have covered 11 of 20 games this season, while Kentucky has failed to cover the spread in 15 of 20 games.

The point total is set at 130.5, which both schools tend to go UNDER on. Both Kentucky and Tennessee are 9-11 on the O/U, combining for 22 games going UNDER the point total.

Betting Analysis – Kentucky Wildcats

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 7-13
  • ATS: 5-13-2
  • SU - Home: 4-7
  • SU - Away: 3-6
  • O/U: 9-11

Not much has gone right for Kentucky this season, scoring under 70 points per game while also allowing 71. The eighth toughest schedule in the country doesn't help matters, but the silver lining for this team is that they've had plenty of experience against very good teams already. Tennessee is no different.

Despite a sluggish mid-season form, Tennessee is a top team in the country. Perhaps not elite, but they can contend for the Elite Eight. This is nothing new to what Kentucky has seen this season. They only lost to Arkansas by one, lost to Missouri by five, lost to Louisville by three, lost to Kansas by three and beat Florida.

With all of that said, they're just 5-13-2 on the ATS this season. The close games don't mean much to a bettor if the Wildcats aren't covering. Although the easy names to target would be Brandon Boston and seniors Olivier Sarr and Davion Mintz, the players that must step up are freshmen Isaiah Jackson and Devin Askew.

The youth excuse can be set aside for Kentucky's failures this season, with plenty of experience now and playing games at the most meaningful time of the season. Jackson has scored 15 points or more during the two-game winning streak, while Askew has scored nine points or more in four straight games.

Assuming Boston, Sarr and Mintz can come close to their season totals, it seems Kentucky just needs one of the two freshman to step up to give the Wildcats a push through the finish line. The question becomes, is that possible on the road against Tennessee's stout defense?

Betting Analysis – Tennessee Volunteers

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 15-5
  • ATS: 11-9
  • SU - Home: 12-2
  • SU - Away: 3-3
  • O/U: 9-11

The short answer, it's unlikely. The Vols own the nation's 15th-best defense, and have already beaten this club by 11 points earlier in the month. The surprise was actually seeing Kentucky score 71 points, so expect Rick Barnes to focus much more on not allowing Kentucky to score so many points.

Tennessee's big reveal came when the offense disappeared with the absence of Jaden Springer. He opens everything up for this team, as Tennessee has now won five of its last seven games - scoring 80 or more points in four of those wins. The talent of this team is deep, but it seems Springer is truly the glue that holds them together.

Inside the Stats – Kentucky Wildcats

  • PS/G: 69.8 (224th)
  • PA/G: 71 (203rd)
  • Off Rtg: 98.3 (245th)
  • Def Rtg: 99.9 (182nd)

Inside the Stats – Tennessee Volunteers

  • PS/G: 73.8 (125th)
  • PA/G: 62.3 (16th)
  • Off Rtg: 107.3 (76th)
  • Def Rtg: 90.6 (15th)

Key Players to Watch

  • UK - Brandon Boston (12.2 PPG, 5 RPG)
  • UK - Olivier Sarr (10.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
  • TENN - Jaden Springer (12.4 PPG)
  • TENN - Victor Bailey (10.6 PPG)

Kentucky-Tennessee Predictions

The writing is on the wall here, as the home Vols should earn your conviction. They are the better team, by a large margin, as six points is favorable and could be as high as nine. Springer being back makes all of the difference for Tennessee, as it's possible they eclipse 80 points for the second straight time against Kentucky.

You're also playing the Kentucky 5-13-2 ATS odds, which is the smartest play on the board. Don't overthink this and stick with Tennessee, but if you must wager the point total then perhaps lean OVER the low 130.5 given. Tennessee is scoring points at a very high pace right now, and Kentucky did touch 71 last time against this good defense.

  • Score Prediction: Tennessee 70 Kentucky 61
  • Best Bets: Tennessee -6
  • Best Bets: OVER


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