No. 7 Tennessee Takes Aim at No. 1 Zags

Willie Bee

Saturday, December 8, 2018 7:34 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 7:34 PM UTC

A top 10 battle is brewing on Sunday when Gonzaga and Tennessee meet in Phoenix, and we have a free NCAA pick with the Bulldogs slight favorites against the Volunteers.

Season Record: 18-11-1 (+6.40 units)

Tennessee (6-1 SU, 2-3-1 ATS) vs. Gonzaga (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS)
Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, Phoenix (ESPN)
Free NCAAB Pick: Gonzaga ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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We’re coming up on that part of the season when Gonzaga’s detractors will point to a weak West Coast Conference schedule as a reason the Bulldogs shouldn’t be a top seed for March Madness. Those same people might have a tougher time selling their opinion this year, however, due to the tough nonconference slate Mark Few’s squad is going through.

A challenging fixture continues for the top-ranked Bulldogs on Sunday when they go up against the Tennessee Volunteers in a top 10 battle at the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix. Having just survived Washington’s upset bid on Wednesday as decided chalk, the short spread in this matchup with the Volunteers suggest a contest that comes down to the final possession, the total sitting around 160.

Zags Looking For Just 2nd 10-0 Start In School History

It has been a week since Rick Barnes’ club was on the floor, the No. 7 Volunteers cruising to a 79-51 decision over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi that puched a closing -28 number at Bookmaker. Admiral Schofield led the way with 16 points, also collecting four of the 10 steals Tennessee recorded in the triumph. Grant Williams added 14 and just missed his third double-double of the campaign. The Vols rank 26th in the country averaging 83.3 PPG, and 23rd hauling down more than 41 rebounds a contest.

Gonzaga needed a last-second jumper from Rui Hachimura to down the Huskies this week, 81-79. Favored by 15½ on the NCAA basketball odds board, it was easily the worst-shooting effort by the Bulldogs who connected on just under 43% of their field goals, but still lead the nation at 53% through nine contests. They will get almost a week off before traveling to Chapel Hill next Saturday to face No. 14 North Carolina, and a win over Tennessee would give the Bulldogs just their second 10-0 start in 60 years of NCAA action, the other coming two seasons ago when Gonzaga won its first 29 games.

Vols 5-5 ATS Last 10 Neutral Court Clashes

The schools are meeting for the sixth time, and Sunday’s skirmish marks the fifth matchup to come in a neutral setting. Gonzaga has won four of the previous five encounters, and we’re coming up on the 2-year anniversary of the last collision in Nashville, an 86-76 Bulldogs victory as 8-point favorites. The last three meetings hopped totals in the 145-155 range.

My gut tells me Gonzaga looked past Washington this week and ahead to this matchup plus next week’s trip to UNC. The near upset to the Huskies should serve as a wake-up call, and I’ll play the Bulldogs as short chalk with my free NCAA basketball pick.

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