Don’t expect a nail-biter on Sunday when the #10 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10) take on the #2 Tennessee Volunteers (27-4) at Nationwide Arena in second-round March Madness action (12:10 PM ET). The odds opened with Tennessee as massive 8-point chalk and the over/under at 156.
On the year, the underdog Hawkeyes are averaging 79 points per game, 45th in the nation, while shooting 43-percent from the floor and 36-percent from beyond the arc (85th). They have shown the ability to be dynamic on offense, and they were just that in the first round against #7 Cincinnati. The Hawkeyes lit up the Bearcats vaunted defense for 79 points in a 79-72 comeback win. Iowa trailed by as many as 13 in the first half.
Four players scored in double figures in the win, led by Luke Garza’s 20 points. Tyler Cook, who led the team in scoring during the regular season (15 PPG), got himself in foul trouble and wound up with just five points, making the victory all the more surprising.
The balanced offensive explosion completely reversed the trends for Iowa, which stumbled to a 2-6 finish in the Big Ten (including the conference tournament).
If Iowa is going to pull the upset today, it’s going to need to be equally good at the offensive end, and much better than usual on defense.
Defensively, Iowa is giving up a concerning 74 PPG, which puts them 245th in the country, and is an off-putting 240th in defensive rating. Cook is also the team’s leading rebounder, hauling in 8 rebounds per game, but the Hawkeyes aren’t great on the glass, collectively, currently 128th in Division I, hauling in 33 rebounds per night.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Iowa defense get exploited on Sunday as they’re facing a Tennessee group that is elite on offense, currently 8th in offensive rating and scoring 82 points a night (18th overall). They connect at a solid 46-percent from the floor, 35-percent from the three-point line (143rd), and 76-percent from the charity stripe (22nd). Grant Williams leads the team in both scoring (19 PPG) and rebounding (8 RPG).
Williams went pretty quite in the first round, though, just like Cook on the Iowa side.
Tennessee beat Colgate 77-70 in a game that was much closer than expected, and Williams finished with just 9 points and 7 rebounds. Admiral Schofield picked up the slate, dropping 19 points against the Raiders.
Like Iowa, the Volunteers are better offensively than defensively, but the difference on the Tennessee side isn’t nearly as stark. The Vols are ranked 42nd in defensive rating while holding opponents to 68 points, on average. Their balance is why the spread opened at nearly double digits.
The wagering trends favor Tennessee. The Volunteers are a little over .500 against the spread this season at 18-16-1 ATS, while Iowa is a woeful 14-20-0 ATS.
Find the complete slate of odds, the line movement, and the game total prediction for Iowa vs Tennessee in the tables above. As always, good luck with your wagers.