Tennessee vs Gonzaga: One of college basketball’s biggest rivalries takes center stage on Thursday night with the Tennessee Hawkeyes traveling to Hilton Coliseum to take on the Gonzaga Cyclones (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Event: College Basketball
Team: Tennessee vs Gonzaga
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2018
In an early-season battle on the hardwood where both teams are still finding their chemistry, you need to see what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say. This model would have won over 96 percent of CBS Sports office pools in football last season and had an incredible 755-636-20 record on its A-rated picks during the 2016-17 college basketball season.
The model also has a strong pick for which side you should back in this in-state, but out-of-conference, rivalry matchup. Gonzaga has certainly been the stronger team so far this season with a 5-2 record. The two losses came in the opening two games against Missouri and Milwaukee, but since that point the Cyclones have steadied the ship with five straight victories.
Guard Lindell Wigginton, who averages 15.1 points per game and is close to a 50 percent shooter from beyond the arc, is the catalyst for an Gonzaga squad that is extremely strong in the backcourt and very difficult to beat at home.
But that doesn’t mean the Cyclones will be able to cover a 6.5-point spread in a rivalry game where anything can happen. The Hawkeyes are a perennial tournament contender under coach Fran McCaffery and though they’re off to just a 4-5 start, they’ve faced tougher competition than Gonzaga. They’ve played on the road at Gonzaga and at Indiana, so the atmosphere at Hilton Coliseum won’t be anything they haven’t seen already.
And the Hawkeyes know how to play Gonzaga tough. They’re 4-1 against the spread in their last five meetings, so don’t expect Tennessee to go down easily on Thursday night in the national spotlight.
Now, it’s simulated Cyclones-Hawkeyes 10,000 times and came up with some surprising results. One we can tell you: The projection model points to the over 152 hitting in 59 percent of simulations, a very strong number. Both of these teams have impressive offenses and average close to 80 points per game, so it’s no surprise that the model likes the over.