Purdue Boilermakers (25-9) at Tennessee Volunteers (31-5)
NCAA Basketball: Thursday, March 28, 2019, at 7:29 pm EST, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
Lines & Odds: Tennessee (-1); Over/Under:146.5
March Madness Pick Purdue Boilermakers vs Tennessee Volunteers
The Sweet Sixteen in the South Region will start with a matchup between the #3 seed Purdue Boilermakers and the #2 seed Tennessee Volunteers. The is the first time these schools will meet since 2017 when Tennessee beat Purdue 78-75 as 8-point favorites in the regular season. Purdue is coming off a major beating of the reigning champions, the Villanova Wildcats, by a score of 87-61, clinching their 3rd straight Sweet Sixteen birth. Tennessee is coming off a close win against the Iowa Hawkeyes 83-77 in overtime, after blowing a 25 point lead. Currently, Tennessee is only a 1 point favorite with the over under at 146.5, so it should be a really close game.
In their huge win over the Villanova Wildcats, the Boilermakers came out firing from the gates. They built a huge 19 point lead in the first half. At the end of the game, Purdue had shot 53.7% from the field, hitting 16 3’s out of 30 attempts, posting 19 assists and impressively out-rebounding Villanova by 18 rebounds. A lot of it had to do with their star player, Carsen Edwards, who had broken out of a slump since the tournament started. Edwards posted 42 points with 9 3 pointers, while also having 26 points in their first round win against Old Dominion. Purdue is scoring 121.3 points per 100 possessions (5th in the country), while only allowing 94.4 points per 100 possessions (26th), even with the strength of their schedule being ranked 10th in the country. On the season, the Boilermakers are averaging 76.06 ppg on 44.70 FG% and 36.76 3PT%, while giving up 66.09 ppg on 41.31 FG% and 33.79 3PT%. They are led by Carsen Edwards with 23.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, and 3.0 apg, with senior guard Ryan Cline adding 11.7 ppg, and 3.4 apg.
The Volunteers almost blew a huge lead against the Iowa Hawkeyes in their last matchup. They had a 25 point lead with 4 minutes left in the first half. The game ended up in overtime, with Tennessee taking control once again. Tennessee shot 46.7% from the field and 40% from 3pt range, however they turned the ball over 17 times, which hurt them a lot. Grant Williams led the way for the Volunteers with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Tennessee is scoring 122.3 points per 100 possessions (3rd in the country), while giving up 95.9 (33rd), with a 28th ranked strength of schedule. On the season the Vols are averaging 81.69 ppg on 49.56 FG% and 36.23 3PT%, while giving up 68.92 ppg on 39.98 FG% and 34.34 3PT%. Grant Williams is the two time SEC player of the year, and he was the best player for the Vols this season, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 56.5% FG. Senior guard Admiral Schofield is also averaging good numbers with 16.4 ppg and 6.1 rpg.
March Madness Prediction Tennessee Volunteers vs Purdue Boilermakers
These are two very good teams, each with very good offenses, as you can see by their points per 100 possessions numbers, but also very good defensive teams. A key factor in this game will be Carsen Edwards who is the leader for the Purdue team, and has been shooting lights out in the tournament so far, putting up a very impressive 42 points on the reigning champs. Edwards is a junior, so I believe after being to 3 straight sweet sixteens, he is going to play his heart out to try and get to his first elite 8. Both teams have very good scoring offenses, with Purdue averaging 76.06 ppg and the Vols averaging 81.69 ppg. In the tournament, Purdue put up 61 points in the first round matchup, and 87 in the second round matchup.
Tennessee put up 77 points in the first round, and 83 points in the second round. I think Tennessee will have no problem putting up big numbers on the offensive end, but for the game to go over 146.5, I think it once again comes down to Carsen Edwards. If Edwards can once again put up a great offensive game, then I think both teams will go over 146.5. And as for the game, Tennessee has really struggled so far in the tournament, barely beating the Colgate Raiders and blowing a huge lead to the Iowa Hawkeyes, so I think Purdue has a real shot to upset the #2 seed here, once again, if Carsen Edwards puts up numbers, which I believe he will.
Pick: Purdue (+1); OVER 146.5