NCAA Basketball Picks: Tennessee Volunteers vs Pittsburgh Panthers Big East-SEC Preview

Tennessee Volunteers vs Pittsburgh Panthers
Saturday, 12/11/10, 3:15 PM EDT, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Pittsburgh -8
Current Betting Line:  Pittsburgh -7.5
Opening Total:  141
Current Total:  141.5

The Pitt Panthers opened as eight-point favorites against the Tennessee Volunteers in Saturday's game at the CONSOL Energy Center

Tennessee wasn’t high on going to play the Pitt Panthers in their own backyard, but head coach Bruce Peal scheduled the game without a return contest anyway.  “We had the opportunity to play Marquette in Nashville,” Pearl commented.  “And there weren’t a lot of volunteers to go up there to Pittsburgh and play Pittsburgh.  So we’ll see how it works out.”  The program knows that its opponent is the best rebounding team in the nation and many Big East experts have stated that this is one of the deepest units of the Jamie Dixon era.  “They’re very solid defensively, they’re physical,” Pearl said.  “They’ve got some pride in their physicality.”  Tennessee is 4-2 ATS on the year and the college basketball lines page lists them as a solid underdog.

The Volunteers have relied heavily on their defense during the early going this season, holding opponents to 35.4 percent field-goal shooting and 26.8 percent from beyond the arc.  Tennessee is also a team that can hold its own on the boards, carrying a plus-7.2 margin into this contest.  An important factor in this contest is the amount of time off the club has had since its last game, with 11 days off by the time it tips off against Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.

Pittsburgh is set to play in its first DirecTV SEC-Big East Invitational when it faced No. 11 Tennessee at the CONSOL Energy Center.  The Panthers haven’t played such a high-profile non-conference game in these parts since hosting No. 11 North Carolina in 1995 and Dixon has compared today’s opponent to a then-No. 3 Texas squad that handed his team a 78-62 defeat last year in Kansas City.  “I don’t compare teams, but they’re a very good team,” he commented.  “There are a lot of similarities.”  Pittsburgh tallied its 10th victory last time out with a 70-42 win over Delaware State on Wednesday.  The squad is 3-4 ATS on the year.

The Panthers will be playing their second game in today’s venue, defeating Duquesne in the arena’s first basketball game on December 1.  Pittsburgh has been one of the elite teams in American for quite some time, proving to be the Big East’s leader in overall winning percentage over the last nine years.  The team enters today’s game having won six consecutive games against Southeastern Conference opponents since a December 31, 2002 loss at Georgia.

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Volunteers are 9-3-1 ATS in non-conference games, while the Panthers are 6-2 ATS as a favorite of 7.0 to 12.5 points.

The college basketball handicappers at Maddux Sports are ready for a huge day and can’t wait for you to be a part of it!

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