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NCAAB Tournament Game Preview: #3 Purdue vs. #2 Tennessee

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March 27th, 2019

Tennessee Volunteers (31-5) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (25-9) Game time: Thursday, March 28, 7:29 p.m. ET Location: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky Where to watch: TBS Spread: Tennessee -1.5

Game Analysis

It’s a matchup between a veteran tournament coach in Rick Barnes and a coach who has never cracked the Elite Eight with Purdue. Matt Painter is 0-4 in the Sweet Sixteen with the Boilermakers, but this year’s team has the makeup to finally get him over.

In the first round of the tournament, Purdue defeated Old Dominion 61-48, holding the Monarchs to 26.9 percent shooting. The Boilermakers then took down last year’s national champion, Villanova, with the help of junior standout Carsen Edwards’ 42 points.

Tennessee has looked less than dominant in their first two games. The Volunteers led Colgate 42-30 in the first half only to narrowly escape with a 77-70 win. In the next round, Tennessee gave up a 25-point lead (!) to Iowa but pulled away with an 83-77 win in overtime.

The Volunteers look vulnerable, but they do have the advantage in field-goal percentage and scoring against Purdue. Tennessee’s 49.4 percent average is fifth-best in the nation, and its 81.6 points per game rank ninth nationally. Purdue, on the other hand, is only shooting 44.7 percent (137th in the nation) and scoring 76.1 points per game (71st).

The Boilermakers are giving up less points per contest on defense with 66.1 versus Tennessee’s 69.7. But the Volunteers hold opposing offenses to a lower field-goal percentage at 39.9 (18th in the nation). If Tennessee can continue to outrebound its competition and shoot well from the free-throw line, the team should be able to move past Purdue.

As a coach, Rick Barnes took Texas to the Elite Eight three times, with one run ending in a Final Four appearance in 2003. Last year, he took Tennessee to the second round, where the Vols lost by 1 to 11th seed Loyola-Chicago, who made it to the final weekend of the tournament. Purdue is in its third straight Sweet Sixteen.

The Pick

Tennessee should get it together in the second weekend of the tournament after a major wake-up call in the first. Take the Volunteers -1.5.   

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