NCAA Men’s Basketball: Tennessee Volunteers vs Missouri Tigers – Possible Lineups and Predictions

Published 12/30/2020, 3:00 PM EST
Dec 23, 2020; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Victor Bailey Jr. (12) goes to the basket against the USC Upstate Spartans during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports


In one of the biggest NCAA Men’s Basketball games of the week, the Tennessee Volunteers face the Missouri Tigers tonight. Both teams arrive for this clash with the same 6-0 record.

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Tennessee started the season with multiple canceled games, including fixtures against Gonzaga and Notre Dame. Since then, they have been facing unranked opponents only and had no difficulty in putting them away. This 6-0 run has taken them from the #12 position in the preseason to #7 currently in the AP Poll.

Unlike Tennessee, Missouri’s 6-0 run has included two ranked opponents as well. They have recorded impressive wins against the Oregon Ducks as well as the Illinois Fighting Illini. Surprisingly, they struggled in their last game against Bradley, but managed to get a 54-53 win.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball: Will the Volunteers survive their first real test?

The Volunteers defense has been phenomenal, so far. Although it has come against unranked teams, they have been solid consistently, and are ranked as the 3rd best defense in the country by KenPom. They average five blocks per game as a team and are strong on the glass as well.

They will be expected to start with John Fulkerson and Yves Pons as their forwards, while Victor Bailey Jr., Josiah-Jordan James, and Santiago Vescovi will start as their guards. In Jaden Springer, they have a capable scorer off the bench- currently, the third best scorer on the team.

Dec 12, 2020; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Jaden Springer (11) moves the ball against Cincinnati Bearcats guard Mika Adams-Woods (23) during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers have more experience on their side. Their top five players consist of three seniors and two juniors, and their entire rotation has just one freshman. So this is a unit that is playing together for some time now, and they have a strong chemistry.

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Their lineup will comprise Jeremiah Tilmon and Kobe Brown as their forwards, and Dru Smith, Mark Smith, and Xavier Pinson will be their guards.

The Volunteers come in as the favorites. Although they have a younger team, they have a deeper rotation and a better defense. The Tigers’ hopes rely on guards Mark Smith and Xavier Pinson, who have been dominating scoring charts for them. If the Volunteers can keep them at bay, it should be a comfortable win.

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Dec 22, 2020; Missouri Tigers forward Jeremiah Tilmon (23) is congratulated by Missouri Tigers guard Xavier Pinson (1) and guard Javon Pickett (4) and forward Kobe Brown (24) after defeating the Bradley Braves at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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Aaron Mathew

1549 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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