Tennessee Vols face Iowa as a March Madness favourite

Charlie Grant | Updated Mar 23, 2019

grant williams tennessee

Grant Williams is a Tennessee Volunteers forward who should be able to take advantage of Iowa’s paper-thin interior defence.

The Tennessee Volunteers are large favourites to advance to the Sweet 16 but to do so they’ll have to do what only one other team has done so far in this tournament: Beat a Big Ten program. Iowa hopes to stay hot from 3-point land and build off its 48-point second half against Cincinnati in the previous round.

Iowa proved again it relishes the opportunity to play opponents outside its conference. The outright win as 4.5-point underdogs against Cincinnati improved the Hawkeyes’ record against non-conference teams to a perfect 12-0. They’ve also found a bit of a groove at the offensive side of the floor. Iowa has scored 79 or more points in three of its last four games and the over is 5-3 in its last eight contests overall. Iowa is one many Big Ten programs shining in the Big Dance. Big Ten schools went 7-1 straight up (5-3 against the spread) in Round of 64 games.

Iowa Hawkeyes still struggling against the spread

Tennessee is coming off a seven-point win over No. 15 seed Colgate. It wasn’t the most convincing win for a two-seed, but the Vols never seemed in danger of losing the game. Still it was another ATS loss for the Volunteers who have covered the spread just four times in their last 12 games overall. The over is 5-0 in the Vols’ last five games and 20-14 on the season.

The Hawkeyes fell behind 18-5 early against Cincinnati but they regained their composure and outplayed their opponent in the second half. Part of Iowa’s success in the final 30 minutes of the game came from switching to a zone defence.

Defence has been a major flaw of the Hawkeyes’ this season. The zone worked because the Bearcats shot terribly from beyond the arc. Expect Iowa to go back to the zone against a Tennessee side that lacks 3-point shooting.

Tennessee Volunteers giving Grant Williams scoring support

The Vols proved they’re much more than just Grant Williams. The SEC Player of the Year scored just nine points against Colgate, but teammates Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bowden combined for 33 points.

Williams should be due for a breakout game against Iowa. He’s a bruising forward who should be able to take advantage of Iowa’s paper-thin interior defence. Williams is expected to be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft and he’s averaging 19 points and 7.6 rebounds this season.

Iowa vs. Tennessee Prediction

Tennessee 85-Iowa 75