Texas vs. Tennessee expert picks: Spread, odds, projections for NCAA Tournament second-round game



When the draw came out on Selection Sunday, the Battle of the Barnes made for a juicy potential matchup. With comfortable wins from both Tennessee and Texas in the first round, Rick Barnes will be favored to get a bit of revenge against his former employer. Barnes coached the Longhorns for 17 seasons before getting fired in 2015 and taking over at Tennessee, where he’s led the Volunteers into the NCAA Tournament each of the past six seasons.

Tennessee came into the tournament with a few questions, having lost back-to-back games to finish the season, including a 17-point loss against Mississippi State but quickly put down any ideas of another miracle run from Saint Peter’s with a 83-49 win on Thursday.

Texas, on the other hand, wasn’t expected to have a lopsided introduction into the Dance, but held Colorado State scoreless for the final 6:50 of the first half and took a lead that it would never come close to relinquishing, winning 56-44.

Although the headlines before the game will come from the bench, on the court, Tennessee’s defense is as deadly as ever, ranking in the top five of KemPom’s Adjusted Defensive Ratings for the fourth consecutive year. And though it hasn’t translated into deep runs in previous seasons, the Volunteers’ offensive arsenal is deeper than in years past. Dalton Knecht, a transfer from Northern Colorado, earned first-team All-American honors this season and had seven games with more than 30 points. He put in 23 in the first round on 8-of-15 shooting.

The Longhorns also boast a high-powered transfer in Max Abmas. Abmas is no stranger to starring in big March upsets, having led Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16 in 2021. Abmas is flanked by Dylan Disu inside, a threat inside and out who is shooting 46.4 percent from 3-point range on the season.


What: Midwest Region, Second Round

Tipoff time: 8 p.m. ET Saturday

TV: CBS

Location: Charlotte

Texas vs. Tennessee odds

Odds are from BetMGM and update live. Find the best ticket deals on StubHub to see your favorite team.

Expert picks

Model projection: Tennessee by 7, total 145

See Austin Mock’s best futures bets

Players to watch

Texas

  • Dylan Disu, graduate forward, first-team All-Big 12
  • Max Abmas, graduate guard, second-team All-Big 12

Tennessee

  • Dalton Knecht, senior guard, SEC Player of the Year, first-team All-SEC
  • Zakai Zeigler, junior guard, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-SEC, All-SEC defensive team
  • Jonas Aidoo, junior forward, second-team All-SEC, All-SEC defensive team

More NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage

(Photo of Rick Barnes and Santiago Vescovi: Eakin Howard / Getty Images)





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