Sports Betting News

NCAA Tournament: Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Tennessee Volunteers Betting Preview

The Sweet 16 starts Thursday night, and the East will feature a matchup between the No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls (33-3) and the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (25-10). The game will be played at Madison Square Garden, with tipoff scheduled for 9:00 pm ET.

The Volunteers are the favorites in this one. They are -235 to win, while the Owls’ money line sits at +190. The spread features Florida Atlantic as 4.5-point underdogs (-104), and the over/under for total points is 129.5 (-110).

Owls Look To Continue Cinderella Story

Despite finishing first in Conference USA with an 18-2 record and a 33-3 overall record, not too many people gave Florida Atlantic a chance to make it this far. Now that they are here, the Owls hope to continue their Cinderella story by earning a berth to the Elite Eight.

To get to this point, the Owls have beaten No. 8 Memphis (66-65) and No. 16 FDU (78-70). In their win over FDU last Sunday, guard Johnell Davis had a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.

In 34 games this season, Davis led the Owls in scoring, averaging 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals. Florida Atlantic had two other players averaging double digits in guard Alijah Martin (13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds) and center Vladislav Goldin (10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks).

The Owls rank 25th in the country in scoring as a team, averaging 77.8 points per game. On the defensive end, they rank 39th, allowing opponents an average of 65.4 points per game.

Tennessee’s Lockdown Defense Hoping To Quiet Owls

Tennessee has one of the best defenses in the nation, and it has certainly shown this tournament. In two games, the Volunteers are allowing an average of just 53.5 points to opponents, including a 65-52 win over the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils last Saturday.

The Volunteers’ defense just made life uncomfortable for the Blue Devils all game, while offensively, forward Olivier Nkamhoua went off. In just 22 minutes, he had 27 points and five rebounds in the victory.

Again, a shutdown defense is nothing new to Tennessee. They rank third in the country in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 57.8 points per game this year.

On the offensive side, they are not nearly as strong. They rank 164th, averaging just 71.2 points per game (64.7 over their last three contests). It doesn’t help that Zakai Zeigler, their third-leading scorer, is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Still, the Volunteers have Santiago Vescovi (12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists), Nkamhoua (11 points, five rebounds, two assists), and Josiah-Jordan James (10 points, 4.7 rebounds) leading the way on offense.

Take The Volunteers To Win And Cover

If the Volunteers can play defense to the level that they did last weekend, this could be a long night for Florida Atlantic. The Volunteers dominated the defensive side in both games, and they will look to bring the same physicality this weekend.

Granted, Florida Atlantic ranks well both on offense and defense, but they have not played near the schedule that Tennessee has. In fact, the Owls didn’t face one team during the regular season that finished the year in the top-25.

Tennessee is 24-7 this season as the favorite; they will likely add another tally to that win column Thursday. Take Tennessee to both win and cover the 4.5-point spread (-118) in this one.

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