League Play Opens With Tennessee vs. Arkansas and Undefeated ASU at Arizona

Arizona State Basketball

Charles Stark

Saturday, December 30, 2017 12:27 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 12:27 PM UTC

League play starts for many teams this weekend and we’re going to take it look at two intriguing matchups in the PAC 12 and SEC. Tennessee travels to take on Arkansas, and Arizona State heads over to rival Arizona. Both road teams are the natural underdogs in this spot, but can they find a way to keep these games interesting?

Tennessee at Arkansas

This really should be an up-tempo affair between two teams that like to get up and down the floor. Oddsmakers have made Arkansas a solid 7.5 favorite but for my NCAA pick I will take Tennessee plus the points. Head coach Rick Barnes has a good job with this squad and I like how they are lighting it up from distance shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc. More impressively though is the fact that this team is playing some nice defense allowing opponents to shoot just 39% overall and 33% from distance. This will be crucial against Arkansas team that can flat-out score averaging 32.4 field goals made per game which ranks fifth in the country. However, on the other side of the ball they have been susceptible at times because of their frenetic pace and currently rank 100th in the country in opponent shooting efficiency. Although they are at home, and should win this game, I think this is too many points to give a Tennessee team that is battle tested and most likely believes they come in and pull the upset. The fast pace should only help them.

The Free Pick: Tennessee +7.5 (lines now down to 5.5 at most shops)
Best Lines Available -6 at BetOnline
[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3336858, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,238,169,19,93], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]Arizona State at Arizona

Probably the most surprising team in the country is Arizona State who has come out playing very good basketball to start the season. This will be a tough spot for them having to travel to Arizona but I will go ahead and grab them plus the points as I think this game goes down to the wire. Currently, Arizona State comes in undefeated and the schedule has not been a cupcake one beating the likes of Xavier, St. John’s, San Diego State, and Kansas. Arizona seems to have found their footing after struggling a little bit in early tournament play, but with this matchup I like this game to go to the buzzer. The main issue is the fact that Arizona has not been playing defense like we’ve seen in years past and currently they are allowing opponents to shoot almost 36% from distance. This could be troublesome against an Arizona State team that can light it up shooting 40% from beyond the arc, as well as ranking third in the country in shooting efficiency. If that’s not enough Arizona State has actually been playing some good defense allowing opponents to shoot just under 41% overall. Although it makes sense for Arizona to be the favorite in this spot, unless they get some good home cooking, Arizona State could possibly win this game straight up.

The Free Pick: Arizona State +6
Best Lines Available +6 at BetOnline
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