Tennessee vs. Duke Odds, Prediction | Betting Guide to Second-Round Tilt
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Filipowski & Jon Scheyer (Duke)
Tennessee vs. Duke Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
In the second game of Saturday, fifth-seeded Duke takes on fourth-seeded Tennessee in Orlando, Florida, in the second round of the East Region.
The Blue Devils coasted to a dominant victory in their first-round game, defeating Oral Roberts by 23 points in a 74-51 rout.
Meanwhile, the Volunteers got past Louisiana, 58-55, but they failed to cover the spread.
Even as the lower seed, Duke comes in as the betting favorite in this contest, and I believe it deserves this tag in a game I feel it will win.
Can Tennessee advance out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for the second time under coach Rick Barnes? Its last trip to the Sweet 16 came back in 2019, and the program is one win away from getting back there.
In the opening-round victory, you saw the primary issue that has held back the Volunteers all year. The offense can go through lengthy slumps, especially without the presence of key guard Zakai Zeigler.
Not only was he second on the team in scoring, Zeigler was a primary ball-handler that helped set up the offense. He was also one of the very few Vols players who could create their own shot. He will be a big miss here, as well.
However, the elite defense was still on display, as the Vols held the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 55 points. Barnes’ squad ranks in the top 10 in multiple defensive categories, including AdjD (1st), EFG% (3rd) and defending 2-pointers (8th) and 3-pointers (1st).
There are not many teams in the country that are as hot as the Blue Devils at the moment as they enter this game as winners of 11 straight.
It has not mattered at all that Duke has a first-year head coach and a group of freshmen. Coach Jon Scheyer has his squad firing on all cylinders.
In his debut campaign, Scheyer has created a very good team on the defensive end of the floor, ranking in the top 40 in AdjD (15th), EFG% (17th) and opponents’ 2-point (34%) and 3-point shooting (18th), according to Bart Torvik.
On offense, the Blue Devils are led by ACC Rookie of the Year Kyle Filipowski, who averages 15.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game as a freshman. He is joined in double figures on a nightly basis by guard Jeremy Roach (13.6 PPG).
Tennessee vs. Duke Betting Pick
It may surprise people that the lower-seeded team is favored, but I believe that it’s completely justified.
In fact, my best bet is to back Duke at -3.5, which I would play to -4.
Whether you look at adjusted efficiency or points per possession, no team is playing better than the Blue Devils in the entire East Region over the last 10 games.
This also applies if you look at contests played away from home or on neutral floors during this stretch.
Meanwhile, you can’t ignore Barnes’ history in this tournament, where he owns a career 8-20 record against the spread as a coach. In his past 10 trips to the Big Dance, he has only advanced to the Sweet 16 once.
Tennessee was able to beat Ole Miss and Louisiana without Ziegler, but this is the same team that lost by nine at Auburn and by eight to Missouri in the SEC Tournament as a 5.5-point favorite.
The Blue Devils are a big step up compared to those two programs, and I just don’t believe the Vols will be able to score enough to pull this off.
I also like Duke as a moneyline parlay piece if you can find a worthy partner.
Pick: Duke -3.5 (Play to -4)
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