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College Basketball Jimmy V Classic Betting Preview: Texas Tech-Tennessee, Villanova-Syracuse

A pair of top-15 teams take the court Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Jimmy V Classic gets underway Tuesday evening, with some of the best teams in college basketball looking to make a statement against good competition early in the season. And there's no better setting for these games than Madison Square Garden.

I’m happy to welcome back my colleague Kevin Sweeney as a guest picker.

Season record: 10-10
Guest pickers: 2-2

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Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler (1) is guarded by ETSU forward Jaden Seymour (22) in the NCAA college basketball game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the ETSU Buccaneers.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-1) vs. No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers (6-1)

  • Time: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Spread: Red Raiders +3.5 (-110) | Volunteers -3.5 (-110)
  • Over/Under: Under 138.5 (-110) | Over 138.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Red Raiders (+138) | Volunteers (-163)

Texas Tech ripped off six wins to start the season before a 72-68 road loss to Providence last Wednesday. The Red Raiders had scored 84 or more points in every game before that game and held every opponent to 74 points or fewer. Texas Tech's 84.4 PPG comes from an even cast of scorers. Terrence Shannon Jr., who missed the first three games of the season, leads all scorers with 16.5 PPG.

The Red Raiders shoot a respectable 37.3% from three-point range, and four of their top six scorers shoot better than 40% from deep. KenPom.com likes Texas Tech much more than the AP voters. TTU comes in at No. 19 on KenPom thanks to top-25 adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies.

The Volunteers are winners of four in a row, including a convincing 17-point victory over then-No. 18 North Carolina. Tennessee relies heavily on guards Kennedy Chandler (16.1 PPG) and Santiago Vescovi (15.1 PPG) on offense. Outside of that duo, three players chip in eight or more points per game for a team average of 80.1 PPG.

The defense surrenders 62 PPG, and Tennessee has held its last two opponents under 60. Tennessee's 10.3 steals per game rank 15th in the country, and the team is also adept at blocking shots, swatting away 5.6 attempts per game. As such, the Volunteers have the No. 3 adjusted defense on KenPom.

Moneyline or Spread pick: Red Raiders +3.5

If this game were in Knoxville, Tennessee, I would go with the Volunteers. Tennessee has yet to lose on its home court, and Texas Tech's only loss is on the road. But on a neutral site, I like the Red Raiders to be able to keep it close with a good Volunteers team. TTU is a better team than they appear to be, and Tuesday is a chance to show that.

Over/Under pick: Over 138.5

If Texas Tech is going to hang with Tennessee, it has to overcome the Volunteers' suffocating defense. It's not hard to see each team coming in around the 70-point mark, which would send this game over. Both offenses average better than 80 points per contest, and good defenses will somewhat neutralize those high averages. Still, I'm taking the over.

Guest picker Kevin Sweeney’s picks

I don’t love the matchup for Texas Tech in this game. TTU’s strength is its athleticism and positional size, and Tennessee is one of the few teams in the land that has the bodies to match for 40 minutes with the Red Raiders. The Volunteer defense is great at forcing turnovers, and Texas Tech’s positionless offense without a true point guard turned it over 18 times in its first real test of the year against Providence. Plus, Tennessee star freshman PG Kennedy Chandler is a difference-maker and is coming off the best game of his career against Colorado.

Moneyline or Spread pick: Tennessee -3.5

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Tennessee’s problem over the past two seasons is that its offense has gotten bogged down in the half-court against high-level competition. That could be a problem against a Texas Tech team that is long and extremely well-coached on defense, which makes me lean to the under here. I think this winds up being played in the half-court.

Over/Under pick: Under 138.5

Villanova men's basketball player Collin Gillespie calls out play during game

No. 6 Villanova Wildcats (6-2) vs. Syracuse Orange (5-3)

  • Time: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Spread: Wildcats -9 (-110) | Orange +9 (-110)
  • Over/Under: Under 144.5 (-110) | Over 144.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Wildcats (-450) | Orange (+350)

Villanova's two losses to UCLA and Purdue are pretty justifiable. That's why the Wildcats are the second highest-ranked two-loss team behind Gonzaga. Since losing to Purdue, Villanova has won every game by 15 points or more. The team averages a respectable 79.1 PPG, and much of that scoring comes from beyond the three-point line, where the Wildcats shoot 42%, the sixth-best mark in the nation.

Senior guard Collin Gillespie leads the team in scoring at 17.8 PPG, and he shoots 46% from the arc. He gets plenty of help in the scoring department with four teammates averaging double-digits. Villanova has the No. 3 adjusted offense on KenPom, but its No. 45 defense drags it down. That could hurt against a team like Syracuse.

It’s been a rocky start for Syracuse, which beat Florida State over the weekend. The Orange have won games where they scored as many as 112 and as few as 63. They can certainly score, though. Led by Buddy Boheim’s 19.1 PPG, Syracuse averages 80.1 PPG.

The issue is they allow nearly as many points per game: 79.1. The defense is ranked 156 on KenPom. The Orange are 1-2 on neutral sites so far this season.

Moneyline or Spread pick: Villanova -9

Syracuse has lost to lesser teams like Colgate and VCU and got embarrassed by Auburn, a top-25 team. The Wildcats have fallen against better competition, but they handled the games they were supposed to win. Villanova should take care of the Orange and send Syracuse back upstate with a double-digit loss.

Over/Under pick: Over 144.5

I'm surprised this total isn't even higher. Both teams can score at will and have poor defenses that drag them down to varying degrees. Syracuse and Villanova have both already scored 100 this season, and the Orange have allowed 100 in a game as well. These teams can very well eclipse 80 and go over with minutes to spare in the second half.

Guest picker Kevin Sweeney’s picks

Per KenPom, Syracuse is on pace for its worst defensive season under Jim Boeheim since the site's formation in 1997. That's bad news against a Villanova team that is not only loaded with shooting but also plays incredibly smart basketball. The Wildcats will carve this zone up with smart passing, spacing and high-level shooting. If the Orange don't torch the nets from three, this could get ugly.

Moneyline or Spread pick: Villanova -9

I just wrote about why I think Villanova will put up a ton of points in this game, but I think Syracuse will be able to score against the Villanova defense. Buddy Boeheim has been mired in a shooting slump of late, but a big game like this at Madison Square Garden feels like the time for a veteran star like Boeheim to get things going.

Over/Under pick: Over 144.5

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