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By: Dallas Bowlin

Senior Staff Writer/Editor/Host

The All Vol Call In Show

Fate, or perhaps the selection committee's hand, often aligns teams with a shared history in the NCAA Tournament. In our recent matchup against Saint Peter’s, Zakai Zeigler found himself facing off against his brother, Armoni. Now, Head Coach Rick Barnes faces a unique twist of fate as he leads his team against the Texas Longhorns, a school where he spent 17 years of his coaching career.

The Longhorns are coming off a less-than-stellar offensive showing against the Colorado State Rams in their first-round matchup of the tournament. Texas shot 22-of-55 (40.0%) from the field and a miserable 1-of-14 (7.1%) from behind the arc, a steep drop from their season percentages of 53.3% from two and 35.6% from three. While Colorado State boasts the 27th-best-adjusted defense in the country, Tennessee has the third-best-adjusted defense. If Texas struggled on the perimeter against the Rams' guards, they would be in metaphorical hell against Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi, and Jahmai Mashack.

Texas scored 30 of its 56 total points against Colorado State in the paint. While that may be easy to do against a team that rarely puts anyone taller than six-foot-eight on the court, it may not be as simple against the near seven-footer Jonas Aidoo or the physical attributes of Tobe Awaka. The Longhorns are shooting 68.1% at the rim, which is 6.2% above the Division I average for the season. In the “paint area,” Texas shoots 43.5%, slightly two percent above average.

Teams are scoring 35.9 points per game from the two-point range, which ranks 150th in the country. With Tennessee boasting a two-point percentage of 51.7% and being above average in all three levels of two-point scoring, this could spell trouble for the Longhorns. Texas is slightly better on their three-point defense, allowing teams to score 19.2 points per game from behind the arc, ranking 60th in the country. It is worth noting, however, that in their last three games, teams scored 21 points from three.

With that being said, this matchup will be no cakewalk for Tennessee. I’m sure they are well aware of that. There were numerous things I saw against Saint Peter’s that give me confidence the Vols can walk away victorious and advance to their second consecutive Sweet Sixteen, with Dalton Knecht finding his consistent stroke, and Santiago Vescovi drilling a few threes to hopefully raise his confidence level.

EvanMiya’s matchup preview/predictor seems to echo that sentiment, predicting Tennessee will defeat Texas, 75-69.

Stats | EvanMiya, CBBAnalytics, TeamRankings, and Kenpom. 

Photo | Tennessee Athletics

Graphic | Dallas Bowlin


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