Tennessee vs Louisiana Odds, Picks & Prediction for NCAA Tournament Tilt
Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Santiago Vescovi on Tennessee and Jordan Brown on Louisiana.
Louisiana vs Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Tennessee looks to avoid another early exit from the NCAA Tournament with a victory over Louisiana on Thursday in Orlando, Florida.
The Volunteers have had an excellent season in the SEC and are 23-10 with wins over a pair of No. 1 seeds in Kansas and Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Ragin’ Cajuns won the Sun Belt Tournament and return to The Big Dance for the first time since 2014.
This is the largest spread among games between the four and 13 seeds, but I believe this could be a spot to back the underdog.
Louisiana is making its 11th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its second under longtime coach Bob Marlin.
The Ragin’ Cajuns operate a bit differently than their opponent. Marlin’s squad is very good on the offensive end of the floor, ranking in the Top 60 (according to BartTorvik) in AdjO (48th), EFG% (55th), offensive rebounding (28th) and 3-point shooting (48th).
Louisiana is led by the SBC Player of the Year Jordan Brown, who averaged 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The Ragin’ Cajuns also have a veteran guard in Greg Williams, Jr., who was voted to the All-Sun Belt Second Team.
In the non-conference slate, Marlin’s program dropped a 12-point game at Drake before a blowout loss at Texas. It will be interesting to see how they handle the step up in competition in this contest.
Can Tennessee avoid another exit in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament under coach Rick Barnes? In Barnes’ previous three trips with Tennessee, the Volunteers have only advanced to the Sweet 16 once.
Unfortunately, they’ll be without key player Zakai Zeigler, who underwent ACL surgery Wednesday. The sophomore guard averaged 10.7 points per game and led the team in assists and steals this season.
Zeigler was also one of the few Volunteers who could create his own shot, and teams never want to lose a key ballhandler in March.
Meanwhile, Barnes doesn’t have to worry about execution on the defensive end of the floor. The Vols rank inside the Top 10 in AdjD (1st), EFG% (2nd) and opponents’ 2-point (9th) and 3-point shooting (1st).
If Tennessee wants to have any chance of advancing in this tournament, the defense is going to have to keep it in games — just as it has all season.
Louisiana vs Tennessee Betting Pick
If you couldn’t tell by now, I’ll be backing Louisiana at +10.5 or better as my best bet in this matchup, but I am primarily playing this as a fade of Tennessee.
I just don’t trust the Volunteers to cover a double-digit spread, especially without Ziegler. Barnes’ squad is outside the Top 190 in EFG%, 3-point% and free throw%.
I also can’t ignore Barnes’ history in the NCAA Tournament, where he owns a career 8-19 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.
However, there are a couple of things that worry me with the Ragin’ Cajuns. They struggled against NCAA Tournament teams earlier in the year and may become a trendy upset pick.
Regardless, I think Louisiana will have enough scoring to stay within the number. I would still likely take the Volunteers to win in a smaller bracket pool, but I wouldn’t have either team advancing far.
Pick: Louisiana +11.5 (Play to 10.5)
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