Tennessee Basketball Odds to Win it All

Tennessee Basketball has been one of the best teams in the country, and could break through and win it all this year.

Texas A&M v Tennessee
Texas A&M v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

We have officially made it to March, which means we will soon be getting a month of pure college basketball madness. The Vols have a couple more big hurdles to complete before ending the regular season and heading into the SEC Tournament, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead at Tennessee’s national championship odds. 

The Tennessee Volunteers are rolling and have reached a season-high No. 4 in the AP Poll. With a win over Auburn and a matchup against Alabama up next, the Vols have the highest odds to win of any SEC team, and are cementing their spot as a potential 1-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Rewinding all the way back to early November, Tennessee had the eleventh-best odds to win the national championship at (+2815), according to Fanduel. The Vols were not expected to be at the top of the SEC standings at this point, which have Kentucky and Arkansas ahead of the Vols in the November odds.

Tennessee currently have +1300 odds to win the national championship, according to Fanduel. That gives the Vols the fourth-best odds to win it all, tied with the Arizona Wildcats. Connecticut has the best odds at +550, then Houston sits at +700, and Purdue's odds are at +750. It seems Vegas has narrowed it down to three heavyweights with the rest jockying for position behind them.

With the Vols near the top in the odds market, how do they matchup against the heavyweights at the top of the list?

Rick Barnes has nearly perfected the art of building a resume over his 37 years of coaching. Since Barnes' arrival in Knoxville, he has led the Vols to some impressive seasons and runs that we have rarely seen on Rocky Top, at least in my lifetime. Since Barnes became the head basketball coach at Tennessee for the 2015-16, the Vols have made five appearances in the NCAA tournament. Excluding the 2020 season due to COVID, all five appearances have been consecutive from 2018-2023. 

Through those five seasons where the Vols have earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Barnes has gotten the Vols all the way to a 2-seed in 2019 and a 3-seed in 2018 and 2022. Once again, Barnes and the Vols have locked in another trip to the dance this season and Barnes is looking to do something he has only done once in his impressive coaching career - earn a 1-seed and a trip to the Final Four.

The only time a Barnes-led team has earned a 1-seed, they went to the Final Four. Every other season has ended in the Elite Eight or earlier. During Barnes' time at Texas, the Longhorns advanced past the Sweet 16 only three times, which is something Barnes has yet to do on Rocky Top.

Because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it is impossible. To be successful in March, you need a team with depth, versatility, and a team efficient on both sides of the court. One thing Barnes has lacked in Knoxville is offensive efficiency, but this year’s team ranks 21st in the nation. The defense continues to dominate, per usual for a Rick Barnes team, and rank 2nd in the nation in defensive efficiency based on the updated KenPom rankings.