Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: #25 Auburn vs. #2 Tennessee (2/4/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: #25 Auburn vs. #2 Tennessee (2/4/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
February 3, 2023
Photo by: Caitie McMekin

#25 Auburn Tigers vs #2 Tennessee Volunteers (2/4 @ 2:00 PM EST)

Spread: Tennessee -9.5
Money Line: Auburn +370 / Tennessee -460
Total: 132.5

Overview and Betting Info

On Saturday, the #25 Auburn Tigers (17-5) will head to Knoxville to take on the #2 Tennessee Volunteers (18-4). The Tigers have won six of their last seven meetings, with Tennessee snapping a seven-game streak with a win a year ago. Both teams are 7-2 in SEC play, trailing Alabama by two games.

Auburn is 11-11 against the spread this season and has covered six of their ten road games. They’ve gone over the total 14 times, including in eight of their road games.

Tennessee is 10-5 versus the spread and has covered ten of their fifteen home games. They have gone over the total nine times, six of which came at home.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers broke a two-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 94-73 win against a Georgia team they lost to earlier in the month. They’re underperforming this season, with disappointing losses to teams like Georgia and West Virginia. Both losses came on the road, as did their other two (Memphis, Texas A&M). They are seventh in the SEC in scoring (73.4 PPG) and tenth in three-point percentage. While shooting for deep is an issue, they take smart shots, resulting in them being fourth in field goal percentage (44.9%). Auburn is also a physical team that defends well in the paint and is second in blocks (5.8 BPG).

The Tigers are led by Wendell Green Jr. (13.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 1.6 SPG), Johni Broome (13.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.5 BPG), and Jaylin Williams (10.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG). While their numbers don’t stand out, Green and Broome have been improving as the season progresses. Green is averaging 15.8 points and 5.2 assists over their last ten games. The junior is also an elite defender, with 23 steals during that same span. Broome is averaging 15.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. He is coming off a game where he scored 19 points and 18 rebounds. Williams’s scoring has been inconsistent, but he is their top three-point shooter (37.1%).

The three stars are supported by Allen Flanigan (9.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 35% 3PT) and KD Johnson (8.1 PPG, 1.1 SPG). Flanigan is a good shooter, making 45.9% of their shots from the field and 34.3% from three. He’s coming off his best season game, where he shot 80% from the field for 22 points and two steals. Johnson has been great over their last two games, combining for 23 points and five steals. He’s only hitting 35% of his shots this season but is active defensively, which joins the Tiger’s top three to form one of the most aggressive defenses in the country. Keep an eye on Dylan Cardwell (4.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.6 BPG), as the center is a defensive stalwart down low and a solid rebounder. Cardwell also has six blocks in their last five games.

Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers find themselves ranked second after going 18-3 with wins against top teams Kansas and Texas. That will likely change this next week, as the Volunteers were stunned on the road against Florida. The loss makes Saturday’s matchup against a ranked Auburn team even more critical. Tennessee’s offense has not been their strength, ranking sixth in scoring (73.5 PPG) and three-point percentage (33.2%) and seventh in field goal percentage (43.8%). They’ve succeeded because of their defense which is third in the country in opponent scoring (55.1 PPG), eleventh in rebounds (39.86 RPG), and seventeenth in steals (9.3 SPG).

The Vols are led by Santiago Vescovi (12.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 SPG), Zakai Zeigler (11.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 2.2 SPG), and Olivier Nkamhoua (11.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG). Vescovi is a talented three points shooter, making 34.6% of his attempts despite converting just 38.7% from the field. He’s a solid rebounding guard who is also a great defender, with 10 steals in his last five games. Zeigler has been the hottest of the three, averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 assists while making 37% of his three-point attempts. Nkamhoua is the team’s top rebounder, making 57.6% of his shots from the field. While he doesn’t score many points, he’s coming off back-to-back games with double-digit points and at least eight rebounds. 

Their stars are supported by a duo of Josiah-Jordan James (9.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG) and Julian Phillips (9.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG). James has dealt with injuries this season but can be a solid scorer when called upon. Though he’s just 6’6″, he is a great rebounder and has grabbed seven in each of his last four games. James can shoot from three, making 32.9%, but doesn’t do it often. Lewis is a freshman big man that has been inconsistent but is deadly when he’s on. He’s also a solid defender, with five steals in his last four games. Jonas Aidoo (5.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG) is our player to watch for Saturday. He’s played just 18 minutes in their previous two games, but he leads the team in blocks (1.1). 

Free Pick: Tennessee -9.5

The Vols have not lost back-to-back games this season, which won’t change on Saturday. Their elite defense will thrive against an Auburn team that has struggled to get points. Their lone home loss came against a decent Kentucky team, but they had an incredible win against Big-12-leading Texas last week.

While Auburn has been good, they have some troubling road losses against West Virginia, Georgia, and USC. All three teams have been average, but the Tigers couldn’t find a way to keep up. Tennessee is miles better than anyone the Tigers have faced, especially on the defensive end. We see the Tigers starting in a big hole early and never finding a way to catch up. Even if Green and Broome play well, Auburn doesn’t have the depth to keep up with one of the top teams in the country.

We’re giving up the points to roll with the Vols on Saturday.

TODAY’S FREE PICK