TV Schedule: Saturday, February 13th, 2:00 pm ET ESPN
Arena: Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisianna
Saturday afternoon features an SEC showdown between two of the more erratic teams in all of college basketball when the Tennessee Volunteers head to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers.
Tennessee is currently ranked 16th in the nation with a 14-4 overall record and is 7-4 in the SEC. The Volunteers find themselves winners of two-straight. Their latest victory coming against Georgia on Wednesday night. While LSU is 12-6 on the year, they are also 7-4 in in-conference play. The Tigers have won just two of their last five games, winning their latest contest against Mississippi State.
This weekend’s Tennessee vs. LSU matchup showcases two teams with differing strengths. For the Tigers, they know how to score in bunches. On the other hand, for the Volunteers, it is all about strong defense.
LSU is by far the more offensively efficient team, averaging 119.1 points per 100 possessions. They post an above-average Effective FG%, cashing in on 53.5% of all their shots. Their three-point game is mediocre, making 34.4% of their attempts from behind the arc. However, LSU’s effectiveness with two-pointers is close to 5% better than the nation’s average. The Tigers also know how to make it count from the charity stripe, registering a 75.8 FT%.
Defensively, the Tigers are subpar at best. Teams average 101 points per 100 possession against LSU, connecting on 49.6% of their shots. They defend the three well-enough. However, teams feast on everything inside the arc. This season, LSU allows opponents to connect on 52.9 % of their two-pointers, 3% more than the national average.
Conversely, Tennessee boasts one of the most robust defenses in the nation. Allowing just 86.6 points per 100 possessions, the Volunteers know how to limit an opponent’s effectiveness from the field. Teams struggle to produce much of anything against them, connecting on only 45.1% of their shots.
Offensively, Tennessee’s production truly depends on the game. Sometimes, they put together a high-scoring affair, while in other games struggle to crack 50 points. The Volunteers average 109.2 points per 100 possession and connect on 50.8% of their shots. LSU’s defense should allow Tennessee plenty of quality opportunities to score, giving them a slight advantage compared to other games.
For Tennessee to win, they cannot allow LSU’s offense to reach its potential. If it turns into a high-scoring affair, the Volunteers run the risk of defeat. They need to dictate the pace and capitalize on the opportunities the defense provides. If the Tigers gain separation on the scoreboard, it will be challenging for Tennessee to respond.
At the end of the day, Tennessee is the superior basketball team. Still, the Volunteers have proven a few times that that does not always translate into a victory. Look for a closely contested battle Saturday with the outcome in limbo during the final minutes.
Prediction: Tennessee 72 – LSU 68