College basketball odds and betting picks for Saturday (3/12)


The 2021-22 college basketball regular season is nearing its conclusion. With semifinal conference tournament games across the board Saturday, we get some great matchups between the best teams in the country. Below is my analysis and favorite bet for the last Saturday before Selection Sunday.


Tennessee vs. Kentucky

(Line: Kentucky -2, DraftKings Sportsbook)

There were two very different outcomes in the twotimes Kentucky and Tennessee met this season, as the Cats blew the roof off of Rupp Arena with a 30-point win in the first meeting and the Vols cruised to a double-digit win in Knoxville in the second one. The storyline and key to this game is the injury status of both teams. Last time they met, Kentucky’s freshman phenom TyTy Washington was limited with an ankle injury, which hindered their offensive cohesion and transition attack considerably. Washington is back to 100% health just exploding for 25 points in the quarterfinals. On the Tennessee side, dynamic freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler went down with an ankle injury of his own in the quarterfinals and his status for this one is uncertain. Like Washington, Chandler’s playmaking ability and explosiveness cannot be understanded and in a matchup with two physical frontcourts, guard play will be key. Chandler not being 100% is a massive blow for the Vols and that should give Kentucky the advantage in both the frontcourt and the backcourt.


Tennessee is certainly playing its best basketball of the season. Most noticeable is that the Vols’ offense has finally hit a groove behind improved floor spacing and more consistent minutes for Josiah Jordan-James and Zakai Ziegler. The two things you need to limit Kentucky in are on the glass (trying to stop Oscar Tshiebwe is almost impossible) and in transition. The Tennessee frontcourt is a bit thin with freshman Brandon Huntley-Hatfield tweaking his ankle Friday and starting power forward Olivier Nkamhoua out indefinitely. The Vols have seen their defensive rebounding rate slowly decline toward the end of the year, sitting currently 134th nationally per KenPom. Big Oscar has led Kentucky to the top-rated offensive rebounding team in the country and Kentucky may be able to take advantage of that today. In transition, the health of Washington and Chandler is key and with both looking completely opposite health-wise, Kentucky should have a pretty significant advantage there. John Calipari typically has Kentucky trending in the right direction come March, and I think the Cats are well prepped to take the rubber match and head to Sunday’s finals.

The Pick: Kentucky -2

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