IHTIT: Tennessee Vols vs. Texas Longhorns NCAA Round Two Preview (3/23/24)

It's Hoops Time in Tennessee: There was no second wearing of Cinderella's slipper for Saint Peter's as Tennessee (25-8, 14-4 SEC, 13-8 vs. Quad 1&2) handled the Peacocks easily in round one, 83-49. Meanwhile Texas (21-12, 9-9 B12, 9-11 Quad 1&2) survived a rock fight against Colorado State 56-44, a game where the Longhorns held CSU to just 29% shooting overall--while shooting just 7% from three themselves. 

The all-time series between these schools is an even 4-4, with three of Tennessee's losses coming at neutral sites. Rick Barnes is 1-1 at UT against his former school. 

See the basketball glossary for more information. Click for larger version. 

  • You might remember Dylan Disu's name from the two years he spent at Vanderbilt. Since transferring to Texas, Disu has become an All-Big 12 performer and was this year's Big 12 Most Improved Player. 
  • Disu is listed as a F, but basically fills the role of a center--his matchup with Jonas Aidoo will be a key one in the game. 
  • In addition to being the Longhorns' leading scorer, Max Abmas has scored the 8th most career points in NCAA history (3121).
  • Texas coach Rodney Terry was an assistant for nine years under Rick Barnes at Texas while the Deacon was becoming the winningest coach in Longhorns' history (402-180)
Texas is a solid squad. They aren't the most impressive team the Vols have faced this year. Texas has a losing record against quad 1&2 teams. Their best win is probably a two-point victory over Baylor back in January. They're top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Texas is one of the most veteran teams in America, averaging 3.24 years of experience according to Kenpom, almost twice the national average. When it comes to comparable teams, Tennessee has both beaten better teams than Texas and lost to worse. But mostly they've beaten better, and with the usual disclaimer that this is March Madness and nothing is sure thing (just ask Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, etc.), you've got to feel pretty good about the Vols' chances of advancing to the Sweet 16 again.

One note of caution, though. There's been two ways to beat Tennessee this year. One is to rely on streaky shooting--either that you go on a hot streak, or UT hits a cold streak. The other, and the more reliable way, is to have an all-conference big man. Purdue, Kansas, UNC, and Mississippi State (twice); or rather Zach Edey, Hunter Dickinson, Armando Bacot, and Tolu Smith (twice) have managed to take down the Vols. In three of those games, Jonas Aidoo fouled out, and against MSU Tobe Awaka fouled out as well. Aidoo has played very well for the Vols this year--but when facing top-level big-man talent, he has struggled to match up. Dylan Disu fits the bill of "all-conference big man" for Texas. It's my belief that he's not on the same level as those other bigs that have given Aidoo and the Vols hell this year. But if Tennessee struggles Saturday night, the Aidoo-Disu matchup will likely be the culprit. 

Prediction: Tennessee 75, Texas 68
Mediocre Betting Advice: I dunno man, it's March. If I knew what I was doing, I would've had money on Oakland and Yale. In this game, Kenpom has Tennessee by 5. The betting line is 6.5. The Vols are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 while Texas is right at .500. There's also this, though, which is mildly terrifying: 
You could also read that as "we're due one." My feeling is Tennessee either loses outright or solves the big-man problem and wins with some comfort. I'll take the Vols -6.5 and though the over hits in just over 50% these teams' games combined, Texas' 7% from three in round one has me leaning Under 149.
Prediction Record YTD: 13-5 SU, 10-8 ATS, 9-7-1 O/U


Popular Posts