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Tennessee Laying 2-Points vs Stacked Washington Huskies at Naismith Classic in Toronto

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Nov 16, 2019 · 4:15 AM PST

Naismith Classic
The Tennessee Volunteers clash with the Washington Huskies as 2-point favorites at the Naismith Classic in Toronto. Photo by Paperfire (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • The Washington Huskies face the Tennessee Volunteers in a neutral site game in Toronto Saturday
  • UW beat then-No. 16 Baylor 67-64 as a +5.5-point dog in its first game of the season in Anchorage, Alaska
  • 2-point-favorite Tennessee is shooting a sizzling 46 percent from 3-point range in its first two outings

The Washington Huskies (2-0, No. 20 AP) face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) in a neutral site game at the Naismith Classic in Toronto Saturday (Nov. 16, 5:00 PM ET). The Vols are a slight favorite over the Dawgs according to our Washington vs Tennessee odds. But should they be? Let’s break down this delicious Pac-12 vs SEC North of the Border matchup.

Washington Huskies vs Tennessee Volunteers Odds

Team Spread Over/Under
Washington +2.0 (-110) Over 134.5 (-110)
Tennessee -2.0 (-110) Under 134.5 (-110)

Odds taken Nov. 15

While a victory over Tennessee at Scotiabank Arena would give Washington two wins over Top-20 (according to KenPom.com) opponents in its first three games, would it be enough to sneak Mike Hopkins’ program into the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds group of top teams? We shall see. But you can expect a back-and-forth affair like the Dawgs’ tussle with the Bears in the 2019-20 lid-lifter.

The Huskies got a combined 33 points and 14 rebounds from their pair of highly-touted freshmen Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart in that one. And if UW is going to own wins over upper-tier Big 12 and SEC teams early on, it will be thanks to the dynamic duo.

Fab Freshmen

McDaniels and Stewart are the type of players professional scouts drool over. The 6-foot-9 forwards play off each other and are projected to be lottery picks in the 2020 NBA Draft. Saturday’s contest is exactly the type of atmosphere these blue-chippers thrive in.

Tennessee’s primary rotation isn’t particularly stout, with no player weighing in over 225 pounds. As Vols head coach Rick Barnes told The Knoxville News Sentinel of Stewart, “He plays hard, He goes both ways really hard. Runs the floor hard. Posts hard. He does everything hard.”

I expect Stewart to live up to the hype in Canada and have a big game. But will it be enough for the young Huskies to pull the slight upset?

These Vols Can Shoot

As noted above, Tennessee has been red-hot from beyond the arc so far. Two games is a small sample size, but 46 percent from downtown is 46 percent. The Vols were trailing by 11 to a Ja Morant-less Murray State team in the second half before going on a 16-0 run to eventually pull away with an 82-63 win (and a cover as an 11-point favorite).

That barrage was led by Jordan Bowden, who finished with a career-high 26 points (including 6-of-8 from 3-point land). Junior Frenchman Yves Pons has also opened the season on fire, averaging 17 points per game at a nearly 78 percent clip from the field. Those numbers aren’t sustainable. But surely Hopkins’ zone defense will be tested.

Intangibles

At the end of the day, the UW-UT tilt figures to be tightly-contested. And when that’s the case, you need to look at factors beyond the box score. Consider Washington’s travel schedule in its first week-plus. Game in Alaska Nov. 8. Game in Seattle Nov. 12. Game in Toronto Nov. 16. That’s a lot of mileage, even for a young roster led by high-motor guys. The Vols’ hot shooting is likely to regress to the mean, and Washington’s first two games went under the total. Hopkins loves defense, and so do I here. With such a close call on the winner, I like the under in Toronto.

Pick: Under 134.5 (-110)

 

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