One of the more interesting, but underrated, games on Saturday’s college basketball scheduke features two unranked teams looking to secure some momentum ahead of upcoming conference play as Wisconsin (6-5) takes on Tennessee (8-3) in Knoxville,Tennessee. Both the Badgers and the Volunteers are coming off big wins, Wisconsin over Milwaukee and Tennessee over Jacksonville State. A chance to stake a resume-building win ahead of the new year lies ahead.
Tennessee has protected its home court well this season with a 6-1 record inside Thompson-Boling Arena, its lone loss coming two weeks ago in a close contest to talented Memphis. Wisconsin on the other hand carries five losses into this matchup — two of which came on the road in December to unranked teams. After a 19-point win over Milwaukee a week ago, the Badgers have claimed back some confidence having won two of their last three leading into Saturday.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin is one of the slowest-paced teams in college basketball this season, and you can bet that facing a fierce atmosphere Saturday, more snail-paced ball is on its way. To this point in the season, it’s only worked in varying capacities. The Badgers won a few shootouts against Marquette, Indiana, McNeese State and Milwaukee, but knock-out drag-out fights against Saint Mary’s, Richmond, New Mexico and NC State provided different results. Getting Nate Reuvers involved early will be key. He’s coming off a season-high 22 points against Milwaukee, and in tilts against Indiana and Saint Mary’s he’s been the catalyst for what they do on offense. He leads the team in scoring averaging 15.2 points per game this season.
Tennessee: If there’s such a thing as a let-down spot for Tennessee, this would be it. After stomping Jacksonville State a week ago in Rick Barnes’ 700th career win — Josiah-Jordan James to get some opportunities to stretch his legs and Jordan Bowden, who is having a career year, to continue to take advantage of his newfound opportunities.— they have to get up in a big spot at home for a Wisconsin team that’s been resilient even without the record to show for it. It should be an interesting spot to see how Tennessee plays and who steps up without Turner, who was leading the team in assists. Expect freshman
Game prediction, pick
Latest odds via SportsLine: Tennessee -4.5
Wisconsin is 2-1 against the spread this season as an underdog but 0-2 against the spread as an away team. I trust the latter to prevail more. Tennessee’s been a force at home this season and I think Rick Barnes will have his guys up for this spot. Pick: Tennessee -4.5
[Which teams should you back to make the Final Four and win it all? Join SportsLine today and get projected scores and stats from 10,000 simulations, plus get Vegas insider picks, fantasy advice and much more!]