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DraftKings Ohio Best Bet
Tennessee Volunteers -11.5
March is the time for unforeseen upsets and Cinderella runs, but I don’t see it in this matchup between Louisiana and Tennessee. The Volunteers are coming off a disappointing loss to Missouri in a revenge spot in the SEC Tournament, but I believe that sets them up for a great buy-low opportunity against a Louisiana team they match up very well with.
Tennessee has arguably the best defense in the country as they’re second in both adjusted defensive efficiency and effective FG% allowed. They’re facing a Louisiana offense that struggles to shoot from three-point range and gets to the free-throw line at a high rate but doesn’t convert. The Ragin’ Cajuns play through big man Jordan Brown in the post, but they’re a one-dimensional offense that’s easy to prepare for.
The biggest argument for the other side of this spread is the absence of Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee’s leading assist man and clutch-time scorer. However, the Vols are only 0.01 points per possession worse without him on the floor this season, and I believe that absence is being overblown in the market. I expect their overwhelming athleticism and elite defense to win out here.
Tennessee has blown out opponents all season as 11 of their 23 wins came by 25+ points. They blew out SEC teams in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi State by 30+ points and they even have an 11-point win over Texas, a 2 seed in this bracket. It’s hard to imagine Louisiana accomplishing more against this defense than those teams were able to.
I’m likely going to lock in Tennessee as my pick in my survivor pool, but that’s mostly due to the contrarian aspect of it. The underdogs I like the most on Thursday – Furman and Oral Roberts – are likely to be very public sides, so the leverage is better with a Tennessee play. Still, I love the Volunteers to cover this spread here.