Tennessee vs. Purdue Betting Guide: Will Boilermakers Match Vols’ Size in NCAA Tournament Sweet 16?

Tennessee vs. Purdue Betting Guide: Will Boilermakers Match Vols’ Size in NCAA Tournament Sweet 16? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tennessee guard Admiral Schofield, Purdue guard Carsen Edwards

#2 Tennessee vs. #3 Purdue: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds, Pick

  • Spread: Tennessee -1.5
  • Over/Under: 146.5
  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Date: Thursday, March 28
  • Time: 7:29 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

>> All odds as of Wednesday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


The Volunteers (17-17-1 against the spread) have dropped three straight games ATS despite advancing to the Sweet 16. Their most recent loss was a 25-point blown lead against Iowa (+8) in the Round of 32 before they outright in overtime.

Meanwhile, the Boilermakers (19-15 ATS) have won three of their past four contests ATS, highlighted by their 26-point win over Villanova on Saturday.

Where’s the value in this matchup? Let’s break it down.

The Admiral Schofield Factor

Despite producing 19 points in the Vols’ victory over Iowa, the 6-foot-6 Schofield sat on the bench for the latter part of the second half and the entire overtime. He noted postgame that Tennessee center Kyle Alexander needed to see the floor because of his defensive presence, but Schofield’s impact doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Vols are 6-3-1 (67.6%) ATS when he’s produced at least 20 points per game this season. While Purdue has a physical wing in Nojel Eastern, his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame won’t be enough to matchup with a sound three-level scorer. Expect a bounce-back showing from the senior forward with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.

Tennessee’s Interior Attack

Rick Barnes’ unit owns the highest 2-point scoring rate (55.6%) in the country, led by the 6-foot-7 Grant Williams (18.8 points per game). On the flip side, the Boilermakers have allowed the 29th-lowest 2-point scoring percentage (44.1%) in the country.

Nevertheless, Purdue’s small-ball lineup doesn’t boast the size to slow down Tennessee in half-court sets. With Matt Haarms banging with Alexander on the glass, Williams will likely square off with senior Grady Eifert or freshman Aaron Wheeler, and his veteran savvy will be difficult to keep in check from the low-post.

The Boilermakers have struggled to matchup with lengthier lineups, exhibited in their losses to Michigan State, Maryland and Minnesota, respectively.

Moreover, the Vols’ likely success inside the arc should trickle out to the perimeter, where I’d expect Schofield (41.5%) & Co. to make Matt Painter’s crew pay.

Purdue’s Perimeter Arsenal

Tennessee’s biggest defensive weakness comes from the perimeter, as it allows the 65th-highest 3-point scoring rate (35.5%) in the country. Purdue guard Carsen Edwards and his mates will eat the opposition from that area if they’re able to control the pace, tallying the 25th-highest 3-point scoring percentage (39.0%).

Getting into a shootout wouldn’t bode well for the Vols, especially if wing Ryan Kline (40.6%) gets going.

Ultimately, look for Tennessee’s physicality in the lane — led by Williams and Schofield — to limit Edwards from dominating off the dribble to create perimeter looks for the Boilermakers. The 6-foot-3 Jordan Bone is an underrated defender as well, and his length should give Edwards some fits to generate space from the perimeter.

Purdue appears to have an advantage on the glass (18th-highest offensive rebounding rate), aiding their prowess for producing mismatches along the arc. But the Vols refined their defensive rebounding percentage to fourth-highest (30.2%) in SEC play, giving way for Alexander and Williams having a big night on the boards.

Eli’s Pick: Tennessee -1.5, but I wouldn’t bet it past Tennessee -2.5

Our Projected Odds: Tennessee vs. Purdue

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Tennessee -0.5
  • Over/Under: 145.5
  • Score: Tennessee 73 | Purdue 72.5
  • Win Probability: Tennessee 50.1% | Purdue 49.9%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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