Tennessee Volunteers vs Texas preview, odds, and predictions

Tennessee basketball will face Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with the opportunity to earn a spot in the second weekend of the tournament.
Saint Peter's v Tennessee
Saint Peter's v Tennessee / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

8:00 PM ET. Saturday, March 23. Texas vs Tennessee. 534. . 21-12. 851. CBS. 25-8

Rick Barnes earned his 200th win as Tennessee basketball's head coach on Thursday. The No. 2 Vols' 83-49 win over No. 15 Saint Peter's in the NCAA Tournament First Round set up a date with the No. 7 Texas Longhorns in Round Two.

Texas holds a special place in Barnes' heart, giving him 17 years of success before he came to Tennessee. It will be an emotional game for Barnes and Rodney Terry, Texas' head coach, who spent years as an assistant for Barnes.

Tennessee sits as a 6.5-point favorite over the Longhorns, according to Fanduel. The over/under sits at 145.5 points, which is 16 points higher than the over/under in Tennessee's first-round matchup against Saint Peters.

While Tennessee comes into this game as the better team, Texas isn't too far behind the Vols offensively. Max Abmas leads the Longhorns offensively, averaging 17 points per game while shooting 42.8% from the field.

Zakai Zeigler will have his hands full with Abmas, but the SEC Defensive Player of the Year isn't shying away from Abmas or the Longhorns' offense. It will be important for Zeigler to continue being a nuisance to opposing offenses as the Vols move through the Tournament.

“I love competition. I never feel like I’ve ever ducked any smoke or ran from any competition in my life,” Zeigler said. “So night-in and night-out I want to play against top guards and these type of moments, I dream for them and I’m glad God gave me this opportunity.”

The Longhorns also like to work for their points under the basket. They get 45% of their points from within the paint, while Tennessee gets 47.6% of their point from within the paint. That sets up an interesting matchup down low, with both teams likely looking to establish dominance in the paint early in the game. 

This could be a game where the Vols heavily rely on Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka to provide a lot of production down low on both ends of the court. If Texas is going to challenge Tennessee in the paint, the Vols are going to need Aidoo and Awaka to defend and score without falling into early foul trouble. 

Aidoo had a dominant game in the Vols' first-round game, scoring 15 points, grabbing six rebounds, and blocking three shots. He established his presence early, forcing Saint Peter's to find areas to score outside the paint. 

If Tennessee wants to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, they will have to establish the physicality that got them to this point in the season, especially in the paint. Zeigler and company will have to force Abmas to pass the ball, and Aidoo will have to continue to dominate and control the paint.

The Vols have experience shutting down explosive backcourts like Texas' with wins over Alabama, Auburn, and Kentucky throughout conference play this season. This is nothing new for the Vols, but it will still take a full team effort to take down Texas.

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No. 2 Tennessee and No. 7 Texas will tip off on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET on CBS for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. Barnes will try to break his drought and breakthrough to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight by going through his former school.