Tennessee Basketball: Vols NCAA Tournament odds, picks, predictions

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes watches his team face Missouri during the second half of a SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 10, 2023.Ut Mo G8 031023 An 030
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes watches his team face Missouri during the second half of a SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 10, 2023.Ut Mo G8 031023 An 030 /

In 24 hours, Tennessee basketball kicks off the postseason against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Do the Volunteers have what it takes to make a run deep into the Tournament? Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about the betting odds for the Vols.

All odds are according to FanDuel.

Tennessee Basketball NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16 Odds:

Odds: -110

The Volunteers are currently at about even odds to make it to the Sweet 16, which would take a victory over Louisiana and then a win against either Duke or Oral Roberts.

Vs. Louisiana: This will be a matchup between similar offenses but drastically different defenses. Louisiana ranks 57th in AdjO (adjusted offensive efficiency), and Tennessee ranks 49th, according to KenPom. While this may seem similar, it’s not so similar on the defensive side. Tennessee basketball ranks 2nd in the country, and Louisiana ranks 146th according to KenPom’s AdjD (adjusted defensive efficiency). It’s also important to note that Louisiana’s strength of schedule was the polar opposite of the Volunteers’.

Vs. Duke: It would likely be a tight matchup if the Volunteers faced the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has a slightly better AdjO efficiency (42nd vs. 49th), but the Vols are much better in AdjD efficiency (2nd vs. 24th). Even without star Point guard Zakai Zeigler, the Vols matchup exceptionally well against the Blue Devils and would take care of business, moving on to the Sweet 16.

Vs. Oral Roberts: On the other hand, if Oral Roberts upsets Duke and faces the Volunteers, I think this is a worse matchup for the Vols. I would rather play Duke in this round because the two teams are very similar, but the Vols have an edge in defense. If the Vols take on Oral Roberts, they are severely at a disadvantage on the offensive side of the ball. The Golden Eagles may find ways to exploit our defense. The Vols will then have to rely on their offense to keep them in the game, which has proven inconsistent.

Tennessee Basketball NCAA Tournament – Elite 8 Odds:

Odds: +270

The Volunteers are currently at almost 3-to-1 odds to make it to the Elite 8. This would likely take victories over Purdue, Memphis, or FAU.

Vs. Purdue: Multiple factors go into the likely sweet 16-game against Purdue. Looking at purely the offensive and defensive metrics, the Vols have a much worse offense than the Boilermakers (7th vs. 49th). However, Tennessee’s defense is much more vigorous than Purdue’s (2nd vs. 26th). So, these two will cancel each other out, and the result of this game will come based on a critical metric that I have been tracking all year. This metric is KenPom’s Luck rating, which is the deviation between a team’s actual winning percentage and the above metrics’ expectations. If teams win close games, they are considered “lucky.” Tennessee basketball has a 324th-ranked luck rating, while Purdue has a 97th-ranked luck rating. Is Purude more “Lucky,” or are they simply just better at finishing games? The Vols are ranked almost dead last in Luck, so will this trend continue, or is there a possibility of the Vols finding themselves in the Tournament and they learn how to finish close games?

Vs. Memphis: If Memphis finds a way to upset Purdue in the round of 32, this game becomes drastically easier, and the Vols will feel lucky not to have to face the No. 1-seeded Purdue. Memphis is a solid team; they have a good offense (26th) and a decent defense (35th). The Vols, however, have a defense that will suffocate this Memphis offense and take care of business on the offensive side.

Vs. FAU: If FAU upsets Memphis and Purdue, this cinderella run for FAU ends in the Sweet 16. FAU is a good team; they are incredibly similar to Memphis but have much less Tournament experience. The lack of NCAA tournament experience may come back to bite them in a matchup with the Volunteers in the Sweet 16.

Tennessee Basketball NCAA Tournament – Final 4 Odds:

Odds: +550

The Volunteers are at almost 6-to-1 odds to make the Elite 8. This would likely take victories over Marquette (2), Kentucky (6), or Kansas State (3).

Vs. Marquette: If Tennessee basketball faces the No. 2 seeded Golden Eagles in the Elite Eight, it will be the most challenging game they have played all year. Marquette is arguably the hottest team in basketball right now; they have the No. 8 ranked offense and have been playing like the No. 1 recently. It will be a test of the year for this Volunteer defense, and I wonder if they will hang with this Marquette team that has shooters in every position on the court.

Vs. Kentucky: Kentucky has had the Vols number all year long. However, it’s challenging to beat a good team 2 times in a row. Still, something even rarer is beating an elite team 3 times in a row, especially when that team is much better than you are. Tennessee basketball is the far superior team to the Kentucky Wildcats. If given the opportunity to play them again, I am confident that the Vols will take care of business in the Elite Eight.

Vs. Kansas State: If the Vols play Kansas State in the Elite Eight, this would be quite an exciting matchup. The Vols, for the first time in the Tournament, would have a better AdjO and AdjD. This is the ideal matchup in the Elite Eight for the Vols and would give them the best chance at winning.

Tennessee Basketball NCAA Tournament – National Championship Odds:

Odds: +2500

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