Tennessee Volunteers (25-10) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (33-3)
Game Info: Friday, March 23, 2022 at 9:00 p.m. EST (Madison Square Garden)
Betting Odds: Tennessee (-5) / Over/Under (129.5)
Pick: Tennessee (-5)
As the second week of March Madness dawns upon us, we will head into the famous Madison Square Garden to take a look at a battle between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Atlantic Owls.
The Vols were able to display their vaunted defense on the national stage in their Round of 32 clashes against the Duke Blue Devils. In that game, they only allowed a mere 52 points and held the Blue Devils to a 42.9% shooting percentage from the field. As I have noted in the past, the Vols will not kill you on the offensive end by putting up 80+ points a game, but if you are not ready to be in a dog fight for 40 minutes come tipoff against them, you will be going home with your head down. Along with the stellar defensive display that they boasted against Duke, they were able to get a massive boost on the offensive end from forward Olivier Nkamhoua. He was able to score a tying career-high 27 points on an utterly phenomenal 10/13 from the field. If they can get even get half of that production from any of their stars in this battle against FAU, Head Coach Rick Barnes will love his chances of advancing to the Elite Eight.
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The Owls have flown under the radar big time this year because they don't play in a Power-5 Conference. That has not stopped them from putting on a show night in and night out though. Coming in with a 33-3 record SU (22-11-1 ATS) on the season, they will feel that they can conquer anyone that is in their path with how well they are playing. In the Round of 32, they were able to use a late surge in the second half against the 16th-seeded FDU Knights to push them into the Sweet-16. This game will certainly be a battle of two separate schemes as the Owls love to push the ball up the floor and score with the best of them. Averaging 78.4 PPG on the year, they will come in with the more potent offense... but will they be able to prove it against a seasoned squad in the Vols? Having only made March Madness once before this year, time will tell if they can continue to take down the giants of the country.
Betting trends to consider in this matchup:
- Tennessee is 9-6 ATS in non-conference games
- The over has only hit in 1 of 5 games that the Owls have played at a neutral site
- The over has only hit in 2 of 9 games that the Vols have played on 4+ days of rest
Although this may not be a battle between two blue bloods in the tournament, it should be a fascinating game to watch. With two squads playing with completely different styles, we could be in for a nail-biting finish. Still, I think the Volunteers have what it takes to win in March with their outstanding play on the defensive side of the ball. Because of their glaring advantage in that aspect of the game, I will side with the Volunteers to break away from the Owls towards the end and secure us a win!
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