Two schools that both have employed Lane Kiffin to coach their football teams face off with the right to go to the Elite Eight. The nine-seeded FAU Owls run up against the four-seed Tennessee Volunteers. It is time to continue our March Madness odds series with an FAU-Tennessee prediction and pick.
Going into this match-up, both teams on the court will know whom they would face in the next round should they win. The floor of Madison Square Gardens will be quickly turned around from Michigan State and Kansas State to watch this match-up. FAU started the tournament with a one-point victory over Memphis, limiting turnovers, and keeping their high effective field goal percentage in the process. Next was Fairleigh Dickinson, who was the second ever 16 seed to upset a one seed. FAU dashed their hopes of making history to continue the march to the Sweet 16.
Tennessee started off the season hot, with a 14-2 record early, and promises of a potential Final Four run. Like their football counterpart, they stumbled down the stretch, going 5-7 before Selection Sunday. Tennessee turned back the clock to early season form against Duke, using their top-quality defense to control the second half of the game on the way to the win. Tennessee also reversed their turnover problem from their first game, taking care of the ball to end the run of the Blue Devils.
Here are the FAU-Tennessee March Madness odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
March Madness Odds: FAU-Tennessee Odds
FAU: +4.5 (-104)
Tennessee: -4.5 (-118)
Over: 130.5 (-110)
Under: 130.5 (-110)
How To Watch FAU vs. Tennessee
Stream: March Madness App
Time: 9:00 PM ET/ 6:00 PM PT
*Watch college basketball LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why FAU Could Cover The Spread
When people filled out their brackets, most likely very few had FAU in the Sweet Sixteen. This was because of Purdue being the one seed and the high expectation for them. Like other Big Ten teams in this tournament, Purdue found themselves on the losing end of a game. This one of historic proportions, allowing FAU to face a 16 seed in the second round. FAU took advantage, and after taking the lead with 8:37 left in the game, they never gave it back.
The offense will be the key to FAU keeping their run going. They ranked 32nd in the NCAA this year in scoring offense, with 78.4 points per game. They did this with efficiency, ranking 23rd in effective field goal percentage on the year. This team also fires from deep. They were top went in three-points attempted, and top fifty in three-point percentage on the year. The Owls were held below the season average against Farleigh Dickinson, but part of that can be contributed to just a poor shooting night, even though FDU did a good job pressing them.
FAU will live and die by the three in this game. Seven different players attempted over 90 three-pointers on the season. For reference, only four players on the Tennessee squad did that, while only three did for potential Elite Eight opponents Michigan State and Kansas State. Of those seven guys, only two of them shot below 35%. Tennessee was the top three-point defense this year, holding teams to 26.4% on the year. If FAU can break through in that department, they will cover and could win this game.
Why Tennessee Could Cover The Spread
It needs to start with defense for the Volunteers. This year they struggled on the offensive end. They ranked just inside the top 200 in effective field goal percentage, and are 200th in turnovers. KenPom ranks them as the 60th best in adjusted offensive efficiency on the season. They are facing the 34th-ranked adjusted defensive efficiency team, so points may be hard to come by for Tennessee. Missing their second-leading scorer on the season also will not help things, but Tennessee has had different players step up for them. Against Duke, it was Nkamhoua that came through and scores 27 points.
The Volunteers held Duke to 52 points, their lowest offensive output of the season. FAU relies on low turnovers, quality shooting, and good rebounding, all things that Tennessee controlled in their win over Duke. The three-ball should be very important in this game. Tennessee has dominated on defense behind the arc. They held Duke to 27.3% from three in their second-round game. Tennessee has shown they can be beaten by the three though. Against Missouri, the closest team to FAU in three-point percentage, they lost as Missouri hit 53.8% on three-point shots in the regular season match-up. In the SEC tournament, Missouri won again, this time hitting 38.5% from three. Tennessee has to slow down this part of the FAU offense, and they have the guys to do it.
Final FAU-Tennessee Prediction & Pick
Tennessee is the better team, but they are inconsistent. They have shown that all season long with the hot start and the struggle at the finish. Missouri has given a blueprint for how FAU can beat Tennessee, now FAU needs to follow it. If they take care of the ball and shoot well, they will cover. Cinderella may get to dance one more time, or the clock may run out, but either way, FAU covers.
Final FAU-Tennessee Prediction & Pick: FAU +4.5 (-104)