Tennessee vs Purdue: How to watch, odds, prediction for March Madness Elite 8

Tennessee is 4-1 against teams in the Elite Eight, with their lone loss against Purdue. They have an opportunity for redemption on Easer Sunday.

Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Two
Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Two / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

. 2:20 PM ET. CBS. 27-8. 534. 32-4. 492. Sunday, March 31. Purdue vs Tennessee

Tennessee basketball is elite. The Vols defeated Creighton on Friday night and earned their spot in the Elite Eight for the second time in program history. Their suffocating and physical defense in the paint will take on one of the best players in the country, Zach Edey.

Edey is the leader of the Boilermakers offense, and his size alone creates a defensive presence the Vols have not seen since their matchup early in the basketball season. Tennessee did get an informal warmup with Creighton's 7-foot-1 center Ryan Kalkbrenner. The Vols did a good job pairing Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka against the big man to get the upper hand on both ends of the court to advance to the Elite Eight.

The Vols will finally face a seed higher than their own, with No. 1 Purdue on the schedule next. This will be the first time since Rick Barnes became the Tennessee head coach that the Vols will face a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.

How to watch Tennessee vs. Purdue

Tennessee vs. Purdue odds

The Vols have been the favorite in each of its three NCAA Tournament games this year. They easily covered against Saint Peter's, failed to cover the spread against Texas, and followed that up by covering against Creighton. On the other hand, Purdue has covered every game they have played in the NCAA Tournament so far.

Tennessee comes into Sunday's game as the underdog for the first time in the tournament. The Vols are 3.5-point underdogs, according to Fanduel Sportsbook. The over/under sits at 147.5 points, slightly above the over/under in Tennessee's Sweet Sixteen matchup against Creighton.

Tennessee vs. Purdue predictions

Throughout the season and NCAA Tournament, officials have let the Vols play their physical defense style without calling too many fouls. That could be the difference in Sunday's Elite Eight matchup in Detroit. Officials are notorious for calling phantom and real fouls against Zach Edey's opposition.

If the Vols fall into foul trouble early or even late down the stretch, it could cost them the win. This was the case with Gonzaga, as Purdue pulled away late in the second half due to foul trouble. Two Gonzaga forwards, Graham Ike, and Anton Watson, fouled out in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen game. 

The Vols faced a lot of foul trouble in their first matchup against Purdue earlier this season. The Boilermakers edged out the win 71-67 in Maui thanks to Edey's 23 points, where seven came from the free throw line. Aidoo and Awaka fouled out of that game, Jahmai Mashack and Santiago Vescovi finished with four fouls, and J.P. Estrella ended the night with three fouls. 

There's no doubt in my mind that Edey is going to get some favorable foul calls. The Vols will need to minimize them if they want to win this game. Even with 30 total fouls as a team against Purdue earlier this year, the Vols only lost by four points. Tennessee isn't going to pull back from its physicality, so it will have to be smart when and where it enforces it.

Dalton Knecht is also a completely different player this time around. He finished with 16 points in that Maui matchup, but he has evolved into an elite shooter and one of the best players in the country. Zakai Zeigler has also developed into the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, while Awaka and Aidoo have become elite defenders in the paint.

This is a completely different basketball team from November. Purdue is also a team that notoriously loses games they shouldn't. You could say Tennessee has a say in that conversation, but Purdue is known nationally for being upset.

I expect Zeigler, Aidoo, and Awaka to bring the heat on defense to help keep the Vols in the game. Tennessee is going to foul. Aidoo and Awaka will probably both finish the night with four or five fouls. Tennessee will have a chance to win if they don't foul out early and can instill a physical paint presence throughout the game.

Tennessee is a versatile team. They've won three NCAA Tournament games in three different ways. Whether it be forcing the ball in the paint, dominating on the defensive end of the court, or letting Knecht touch the ball every possession to assist or score 30+ points, the Vols know how to win in just about every way possible.

71. 492. Prediction. 77. 534. TN vs Purdue predictions

Not only do I believe the Vols cover, but I think they will pull out the upset and defeat the Boilermakers for a little revenge from the Maui Invitational earlier this season. The Vols have the versatility and the athletes to win, regardless of who steps up to get the job done. I predict Tennessee defeats Purdue 77-71 and punches its ticket to its first Final Four in program history.