Take Fired-Up Auburn As Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Tennessee

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 2:22 PM GMT

With Missouri on the sidelines due to a self-imposed postseason ban, we have just one contest to start the opening round of the 2016 SEC Basketball Tournament in Nashville, TN.

No.12 seed Tennessee takes on No.13 Auburn and Southeastern Conference is putting them through the paces, with the winner finishing up around 9:00 pm local time and having almost no time to prepare for 2:30 start on Thursday against Vanderbilt, who will have huge crowd edge.

It has not been pleasant season for either team, with the Vols 13-18 and 6-12 in conference play and the Tigers 11-19 and 5-13 in league action. For NCAA basketball picks, let's breakdown this matchup.

 

Tennessee
ATS Record - 14-15-1

Away Record - 1-14 and 6-9 ATS

Favorite Record - 7-4 and 4-7 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 4-10 and 4-9 ATS

Off a SU Loss - 9-8 SU and ATS

 

Auburn
ATS Record - 12-17

Away Record - 3-12 and 4-10 ATS

Underdog Record - 6-16 and 8-14 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 7-9 and 7-8 ATS

Off a SU Loss - 7-11 SU and 8-10 ATS

 

Game Scoop
In checking with basketball bettors who follow the SEC closely, despite Tennessee having NCAA basketball odds which opened at 3.5-point, with them favored, with total of 145.5, most do not expect a close game no matter who wins. With veteran coaches like Rick Barnes and Bruce Pearl, both understand how to prepare teams for tournaments, while the players do not always respond accordingly, the thought is one team will buy in and win by touchdown (only in the SEC) or more.

Auburn has three three key seniors in Cinmeon Bowers (10.7 PPG), Tyler Harris (13.9) , and Jordon Granger (4.8 PPG). Like any seniors, you don't want your career to end and this trio will do whatever it takes, because there is no postseason tourney in their future. Having lost leading scorer Kareem Canty in earlier February, first for "conduct detrimental to the team", then leaving program all together, that left quite a void.

Auburn has to be smarter in shot selection and not settle for three's and attack more. The only downside of them taking the ball to the rim is when they get fouled. The Tigers are only connecting on 62.8 percent from the charity stripe and since the odds show this as tighter game, if Auburn expects to win, draining free throws is imperative.

Like Auburn losing Canty, when Tennessee saw point guard Kevin Punter get hurt and see his 22.2 PPG go by the wayside, it's not like coach Barnes could just have "next man up". His season-ending surgery did not leave a hole, it left a chasm and Amari Moore (12.0 PPG) and Robert Hubbs III (10.4 PPG) can only do so much as the next leading scorers.

 

**Check Our Latest Pac-12 Complete Opening Round Preview**

 

Head to Head and Who Advances
These teams split a pair during the regular season, each winning on their home court. Both have lost a key scoring and leadership asset and Auburn is 2-11 (4-9 ATS) since Jan.23rd and Tennessee is winless in four tries (0-4 ATS) since Punter was hurt. As mentioned, though the Tigers might still be the lesser team, they have more senior leadership in their last half dozen games, made more of a commitment on the defensive end, holding last five opponents to 40.8 percent shooting, compared to Tennessee at 46.8 percent.

With these weak of teams, not exactly compelling basketball, but coach Pearl over the years has been a solid March coach and with his former team, the Vols, 6-21 ATS as a favorite the last two seasons, no problem taking the points and have Auburn winning by seven.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Auburn +3.5 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes