After a week off and two days following the Tennessee Lady Vols’ trip to Paradise Island, the men’s Tennessee basketball team is now down in The Bahamas for their side of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Play begins Wednesday and lasts through Friday.
Ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 21 in the Coaches Poll, Rick Barnes’ team is set to take on the Butler Bulldogs for their first game. UT beat the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 81-50 in its last outing, but that was three days after a shocking 78-66 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes in Nashville.
Butler enters this game coming off an 89-42 win over The Citadel Bulldogs. Like Rocky Top, they have one loss on the year. Theirs was on the road against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Here is all the information you need for Tennessee basketball’s matchup.
- TV: ESPN2
- Live stream: WatchESPN
- Vol Network (Click here for affiliates); Butler Radio Network (WXNT – 1430AM in Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Satellite: SiriusXM 388, SXM App 978
- Listen online: UTSports; The Varsity Network
Gambling odds according to WynnBET
- Line: Tennessee -7
- Over/Under: 134
- Moneyline: Tennessee -300; Butler +245
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change
Former Ohio State Buckeyes coach Thad Matta is in the first year of his second stint with Butler and his second year overall. Matta led them to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32, winning what was then the Midwest Collegiate Conference regular season and tournament championship, in the 2000-2001 season with a 24-8 record.
That was his only season there, and then he spent three years with the Xavier Musketeers before a 13-year career with the Ohio State Buckeyes that ended in 2017. He hadn’t coached since then but now returns to Butler to replace LaVall Jordan.
This year, Butler has two starters back from last year’s team that went 14-19, Chuck Harris and Jayden Taylor. Matta also added N.C. State Wolfpack transfer Manny Bates at center and Purdue Boilermakers transfer Eric Hunter Jr. at guard. Simas Lukosius, who was a rotational player last year and is back, rounds out the starting lineup.
On the other side, the Vols expect to have Uros Plavsic back for the tournament after losing him early against Colorado. With Plavsic, they should be able to go nine or 10-deep. Butler, meanwhile, barely goes six deep, and four starters play over 30 minutes a game.
Because of that, Tennessee basketball should have the edge in this one. They’ll be able to pound it inside easily, which will lead to victory. Take Tennessee -7. Even with Bates, Butler’s inability to stop the Vols on that side is why UT’s offense will go off. Meanwhile, Butler will shoot well enough from outside to keep the scoring up, so take the Over 134.
The winner of this matchup will advance to face the winner between the USC Trojans and BYU Cougars at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday. Whichever team loses this matchup will face the loser of that game Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET. USC and BYU tip off at 5 p.m. ET, two and a half hours before the Vols and Butler tip off.