- No. 13 Louisiana clashes with No. 4 Tennessee in East Region first-round action on Thursday, March 16th
- Sportsbooks have Tennessee pegged as a large double-digit favorite despite being without Zakai Zeigler
- Below, get the full Tennessee vs Louisiana odds and picks
One of the best but most unpredictable teams in the nation this season takes to the court at the Amway Center to begin their NCAA tournament schedule. The No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (23-10, 17-16 ATS) battle the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (26-7, 16-13-1 ATS) on Thursday, March 16th at 9:40 pm ET in East region action in Orlando, FL.
Inconsistency has plagued this Tennessee team down the stretch as they’ve won just four of their last 10 games. For their tourney opener, they’ll have to contend with a Louisiana squad coming in with a head full of confidence following a Sun Belt Conference tournament title. You’ll be able to watch this one on CBS.
Louisiana vs Tennessee Odds
|Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns||+11.5 (-117)||+448||O 136.5(-117)|
|Tennessee Volunteers||-11.5 (-117)||-854||U 136.5 (-117)|
There’s not much love to be found for Louisiana here, as Tennessee are massive -854 moneyline favorites to knock out the Ragin’ Cajuns and advance to the weekend. Those odds give the Volunteers a whopping implied win probability of 89.52%.
Losing by large margins is not something the Ragin’ Cajuns have been accustomed to this campaign. They are 11.5-point underdogs, but have been defeated by that many points just three times this season and only once in the new year.
Odds as of March 15th at Caesars. Claim the Caesars Sportsbook promo code.
Louisiana Ride 5-Game Winning Streak into Huge Test vs Tennessee
Last season, there wasn’t a single 13 seed that upended a 4 seed, but Louisiana has their sights set on changing that this time around which would cause many to rip up their March Madness bracket in the process.
For Louisiana to stand a chance, they’ll have to force their way to the line and make their shots from the charity stripe, something that’s been a major issue this year. The Ragin’ Cajuns are making just 68.5% of their attempts from the free throw line and if they give away those buckets to a stronger Tennessee team, they can kiss their upset chances goodbye.
My 3-team parlay, per @DKSportsbook, heading into the first couple days of the NCAA tourney.
– Tennessee can’t really score and Louisiana has a stud big man/rim protector in Jordan Brown.
– Then go with 2 of the best coaches that have ever done it with Izzo and Pitino. pic.twitter.com/kG8t08w8yQ
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 14, 2023
Paired up against an ultra-competitive Tennessee defense, the Ragin’ Cajuns will have to continue their effective play on offense. Jordan Brown was dominant for Louisiana in the low post this season and led the side in both scoring and rebounding. He gets to the line seven times a game, but made just 61% of his free throws.
Tennessee Hope for Long Tournament Run Despite Significant Injury
At one point this season, Tennessee was amongst the strongest considerations in the odds to win March Madness. Big victories have been washed away by terrible losses and they are now +3500 to win it all.
Another reason for their odds lengthening is an injury to one of their key contributors. Point guard Zakai Zeigler is out after ACL surgery. He was the Vols’ 2nd leading scorer and was the facilitator on offense, dishing out a team high 5.4 assists per game.
Zakai Zeigler had successful ACL surgery on Monday and will not be with the team this weekend.
— Ben McKee (@benmckee14) March 15, 2023
Since the sophomore went down, the Volunteers have lost two of three and failed to score more than 71 points on offense. Putting all that aside, Tennessee should still have more than enough for a victory here. According to KenPom, they are 5th in adjusted efficiency this season, despite being a No. 4 seed.
Louisiana vs Tennessee Pick and Prediction
On the season, Louisiana is 5-0 in neutral site games, an encouraging stat that may give them a sense of faith as they attempt to overcome a huge spread in the college basketball odds.
Louisiana vs Tennessee Head-to-Head Stats
|79.1 (27th)||Points/Game||71.9 (177th)|
|71.0 (208th)||Points Allowed/Game||57.5(4th)|
|48.5 (19th)||FG%||43.5 (251st)|
|37.7 (27th)||3PT%||32.6 (271st)|
A look at the stats above tells the tale of a far superior Louisiana side on offense, but Tennessee battled against some of the best in the country in the SEC and their defense has been a force all year.
Here are some defensive stats to chew on. Tennessee leads the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 36% from the field. They hold opponents to 25% from beyond the arc, best in the country, and force a turnover on 23% of opponents’ possessions.
Having said all that, with one of their main men on offense out, we don’t see a blowout. An upset is not realistic here, but our prediction is that the Ragin’ Cajuns do keep the score within single digits.
Pick: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns +11.5 (-117)
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