Ole Miss vs. Tennessee NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

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Jarkel Joiner #24 of the Mississippi Rebels. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images/AFP

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Ole Miss, 75-45. In Knoxville, the Vols lead 43-12. While the Rebs won last year, UT has still taken five of the past six in the series. The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. Below, we’ll take a look at the early NCAAB odds and the best sportsbook to bet with today. 

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Tennessee Volunteers 

Wednesday, January 05, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST Thompson-Boling Arena 

A good matchup from the SEC is a highlight of Wednesday’s college basketball schedule – obviously hoping this is played – as Ole Miss opens conference play at No. 18 Tennessee. The SEC Network has the telecast. 

This is the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season as not all SEC teams play every other conference twice. The league schedule would be 26 games if that were the case. Last year, the Rebs upset the No. 11 Vols in Oxford 52-50. Tennessee, which led by as many as 11 in the first half, went 12:27 without a field goal in the second half. Josiah-Jordan James's 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim. 

Ole Miss Could Be Very Short-Handed 

The Rebels (8-4) were supposed to open SEC play at home on December, 29th vs. Florida but that was postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Thus, Ole Miss hasn’t played since a shocking 75-73 home loss to Samford on December, 21st. Jaemyn Brakefield's jumper with his foot on the 3-point line was a moment too late. 

Samford, which had been 0-8 all-time in the series, shot an Ole Miss opponent season-high 51.9 percent overall (27-for-53) as well as a Rebel opponent-best 45.8 percent from three-point range (11-for-24). The Bulldogs also opened the second half on a 25-6 run.  

"Our team has struggled a lot this year starting some second halves. Give Samford credit, they came out and we couldn't guard them," said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. "We hadn't done it lately, but we had wide-open looks and let it affect us on the other end.” 

Ole Miss freshman Daeshun Ruffin missed time injured at the start of the season but is averaging 16.0 points over his last three. Ruffin, a Top-40 prospect in the Class of 2021, is Ole Miss' first McDonald's All-American signee in school history. Jarkel Joiner leads the Rebs in scoring at 14.8 points per game but is questionable for the game due to a back injury.  

In addition, COVID-19 is hitting the squad hard right now. Davis said Ole Miss had two players enter into COVID-19 protocols after testing positive on Tuesday. That was on the heels of having four players, two assistant coaches, and four support staffers in the protocols last week. 

"It's run through our team a bit," Davis said. "If we have seven scholarship players, we're going to go to Tennessee and play our tail off and do everything we can to play that game." 

For what it’s worth, Ole Miss has won four straight games against ranked teams for just the second time in school history – it has never won five in a row. That streak started in last year’s victory over Tennessee. The Rebs haven’t beaten ranked Tennessee teams in consecutive meetings since 1982-83. They haven’t won in Knoxville since March 2016. 

Ole Miss is 4-9 ATS on the NCAAB picks in its last 13 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.  

Vols Get Two Key Players Back 

This is the third straight Wednesday that I’ll be previewing a Tennessee game here at Bookmakers Review. I faded the Vols (9-3, 0-1 SEC) on December, 22nd at home vs. No. 6 Arizona, but they won 77-73. I picked No. 19 Alabama -2.5 at home vs. UT last Wednesday and the Tide won 73-68. 

From a betting standpoint, we caught a huge break in the Tide game because the Vols were without two of their best players in freshman sensation Kennedy Chandler and sixth-year senior John Fulkerson due to COVID-19 protocols. They are both out of protocols now. Chandler is Tennessee's leading scorer at 14.0 PPG and also assist leader at 5.3 APG, while Fulkerson averages 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds.  

Wednesday will be Fulkerson’s 143rd career game played as a Vol. He will pass Wayne Chism (142 from 2006-10) to stand alone atop Tennessee's all-time games played list. As of this writing, Coach Rick Barnes said he should have every player roster available Wednesday. 

Tennessee frankly outplayed Alabama most of that game and probably deserved to win but faded late. Making his first career start, freshman guard Zakai Zeigler scored 11 points and had four assists. With 10 steals, UT recorded its seventh game of 10 or more steals this season. UT's 10.3 steals per game rank 12th in Division I. 

The Vols' scoring defense of 60.4 PPG is the program's best since 1968-69 (58.9 PPG). Tennessee has held its last nine opponents under 1.0 points per possession and is forcing 17.5 turnovers per game and averaging 21.6 points off turnovers. 

At home this season, the Vols have a plus-28.7 averaging scoring margin (85.6 PPG to 56.9 PPG). This should be a rout, too, with Ole Miss having some COVID-19/injury issues. The Vols are 4-0 ATS in their past four games.  

NCAAB Pick: Tennessee -16 (-105) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Tennessee -16 (-105)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.