No Purdue in Tennessee’s Tournament Path
There were those who questioned whether Tennessee deserved a No. 4 seed in the East Region with the way the Volunteers struggled late in the regular season. Purdue and Duke figured to be the last two teams standing in Tennessee’s bracket.
Purdue couldn’t get by No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson and then the Volunteers took down Duke in the second round.
The naysayers are pretty quiet these days after Tennessee used 12 offensive rebounds and eight steals to knock out ACC tournament champion Duke without trailing in the second half.
After Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed with a 63-58 win over Purdue in the first round, Florida Atlantic followed up its win over American Athletic Conference tournament champion Memphis by eliminating the Knights.
When looking at the college basketball news, Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler is out for the season with a torn ACL. The top nine players for the Owls have combined to miss a total of nine games.
Tennessee is 20th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 21st in the coaches’ poll. Florida Atlantic jumped into both national polls at No. 25 last week.
According to the college basketball odds, Tennessee moved from +2500 to +1100 in the odds to win the national championship after beating Duke. Only UConn has better title odds among the No. 4 seeds than the Volunteers. Florida Atlantic comes in at +4000.
A quick look at the numbers put up by Florida Atlantic and it is hard to overlook the gaudy offensive stats. However, the Owls have shown that they are more than just a team that can make shots on the way to reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
After pulling down 18 offensive rebounds and limiting Memphis to 6-of-22 shooting from 3-point range in their tournament opener, the Owls took out tournament Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson with another 15 offensive rebounds. It didn’t hurt that the Knights made just 29% of its 3-point attempts.
FAU also had more steals and turnovers, and that is usually a recipe for success at this time of the year. Still, the NCAA basketball odds have FAU as a 5½-point underdog.
Redshirt sophomore Johnell Davis led the way with 29 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals, and just one turnover.
Florida Atlantic has covered against the college basketball point spreads in six of its last nine games.
Veterans Volunteering For More
Olivier Nkamhoua and Santiago Vescovi combined for just 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting in a first-round win over Louisiana.
It was a different story when the fourth-seeded Volunteers faced No. 5 seed Duke.
Nkamhoua matched his season-high with 27 points and hit three 3-pointers while Vescovi had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists in the 65-52 win.
To the Sweet 16!
— Tennessee Athletics (@Vol_Sports) March 19, 2023
The game had to have extra meaning for Nkamhoua as he appeared in just one NCAA Tournament game in his first three seasons. Tennessee didn’t make the field when he was a freshman and his season ended in early February a year ago. With the way Nkamhoua and Vescovi played over the weekend and two of the favorites out in the bracket, it is no surprise that the Volunteers are favored to reach the Elite Eight.
Tennessee has covered against the college basketball lines in just one of its last five games against Conference USA teams.
Florida Atlantic vs Tennessee Game Injuries
FL Atlantic vs Tennessee Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting between the teams since 2015 when Tennessee won 81-62 as a 13½-point favorite. The game went under the 146½-point total.
FAU is 2-14 against SEC teams with the wins coming against Mississippi State in 2010 and against Florida earlier this season.
Tennessee lost its last two games against a No. 9 seed. However, both times the Volunteers were the eighth seed when falling to Charlotte 70-63 in 2001 and to Illinois State 82-81 in 1998.
FL Atlantic vs Tennessee Game Information
- Game: Owls (33-3) vs Volunteers (25-10)
- Location: Madison Square Garden, New York
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 23, 9:00 p.m. ET
- FAU vs Tennessee Live Stream: TBS.com
FL Atlantic vs Tennessee Betting Lines
FL Atlantic vs Tennessee Picks and Prediction
It will be strength against strength in this Sweet 16 matchup.
The Owls are in the top 30 nationally in points, rebounds, and defensive rebounds per game as well as 3-point percentage. Tennessee is fourth in scoring defense and 30th in steals per game.
Tennessee leads the country in adjusted defensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. FAU is 36th in defense and has the 30th-best offensive rating, so this is not your typical mid-major likely to be overwhelmed by facing a team from the SEC.
There isn’t much to separate the teams in the rebounding department.
Tennessee is ninth and FAU 22nd in rebounding margin. Tennessee does have a decided advantage in offensive rebounding differential and that could be key with the Volunteers missing starting point guard Zeigler and possibly needing more possessions on offense.
Tennessee is 24-7 when listed by the NCAA basketball odds as the favorite. Florida Atlantic is 4-2 as an underdog.
Florida Atlantic is 5-0 this season in games played at neutral sites and has covered against the spread in three of those matchups.
Florida Atlantic is listed at +203 in our college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Owls, you have a chance to win $203. Tennessee is -245, offering a chance to win $41 on a $100 wager. The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Florida Atlantic a 33.00% chance to win, with Tennessee at 71.01%.