NCAA March Madness: Tennessee vs. Louisiana betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 4 vs. 13 matchup in the East region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, Tennessee faces Louisiana with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Tennessee vs. Louisiana
When: Thursday, 9:40 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Florida
Odds for Tennessee vs. Louisiana
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
East Region No. 4 Seed Tennessee
Rick Barnes has another impressive team in Knoxville this season, but can he find a way to exorcise his March demons? Barnes’ teams are known for losing earlier than expected, and that’s hard to ignore entering the tournament. If you can look beyond that, there’s a lot to like about this team. Tennessee’s calling card is its stifling defense, which is highlighted by the group’s ability to get out and contest outside jumpers. The problem with the Vols is that this team lacks a go-to scorer. This is a balanced team offensively, but can somebody make big plays down the stretch?
East Region No. 13 Seed Louisiana
Not many mid-major programs have a player quite like Louisiana’s Jordan Brown. The former four-star recruit was a contributor for the Nevada Wolf Pack and Arizona Wildcats before transferring to be a part of this Ragin’ Cajuns team. He was arguably the best player in the Sun Belt Conference this year, and his combination of size and skill will be unpleasant for opponents to deal with in this tournament. This team is also really good from behind the three-point line, but the team gives it back a bit with weak perimeter defense. That could ultimately hold Louisiana back, and the same goes for a miserable team free throw shooting percentage.
Tennessee vs. Louisiana matchup analysis
This was one of the more interesting games on Selection Sunday because of a wide difference of opinions. DraftKings Sportsbook opened Tennessee -14 and South Point here in Las Vegas opened -13. Circa Sports opened -9. The number settled in the middle as bettors took whacks on both sides.
The herd of elephants in the room all look like Rick Barnes. The Tennessee bench boss is 25-26 in the NCAA Tournament in his career and he’s had some excellent teams at Texas and Tennessee. The Volunteers lost in the second round as a No. 3 seed last year and lost the dreaded 5/12 game in 2021. Since 2009, Barnes has been in the NCAA Tournament 10 times with ONE Sweet Sixteen appearance to show for it.
Does that mean Tennessee will lose to the Sun Belt Conference champs? Probably not, but it is hard to look at the Vols and expect a deep run. As far as this game goes, Louisiana is a solid team, but the things they do well and the things they don’t aren’t conducive to this game. Louisiana doesn’t take a lot of 3s, but they shoot 36.6% on them. Tennessee led the nation in 3P% defense at 26.2%. The Ragin’ Cajuns are a quality offensive rebounding team that ranked 27th in ORB% per Bart Torvik, but Tennessee ranked fifth. Louisiana converted at the rim at a high rate, but Tennessee was one of the best rim-protection units in the country.
The knock on the Vols all season long has been their dependency on taking 3s. They’re shooting just 32.9% and take a 3-point shot over 40% of the time. Well, Louisiana ran teams off the 3-point line as well as they could, but opponents still jarred just shy of 36% of those triple tries.
By forcing teams off the 3-point line with a 3P Rate Against of 29.9%, the Ragin’ Cajuns left some openings at the rim. If Tennessee uses its size and athleticism, this game could live up to the double-digit number. If not, it will be up to the Vols to knock down 3s to win by the margin, and that is not an easy bet to make.
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