Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick
Iowa Hawkeyes (23-11 SU, 14-20 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (30-5 SU, 17-16-1 ATS)
When: Sunday, March 24, 2019 – 12:10 PM ET
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Point Spread: IOWA +8 /TENN -8 (Bookmaker)
Total: O/U 142
Last Time Out: Iowa beat Cincinnati 79-72; Tennessee beat Colgate 77-70.
Scouting the Hawkeyes:
That’s more like it for the Hawkeyes. When Iowa’s going well, it’s because of its work on the 3-point arc. In their past two wins against Cincinnati and Illinois, the Hawkeyes have hit 50 percent or better from deep, while their most recent loss saw them hit just six percent against Michigan. Iowa’s success is based heavily on the performance of its offense, and the Hawkeyes need to connect for deep shots to get the job done because they just don’t play defense well enough to win a true defensive battle. Fortunately, the Hawkeyes didn’t have to against Cincinnati, as the Bearcats got away from their game in the second half to allow an Iowa comeback.
For Iowa, the number to remember is 73. When the Hawkeyes hit it, they’re 15-1 this season. When they fail, they’re 8-10.
Scouting the Volunteers:
Tennessee could have lived without that scare. The Volunteers seemed to be in control against Colgate for most of the way before failing to land the knockout blow in the second half and instead had to work the rest of the game. That work revealed a key weakness in the way that Tennessee’s playing at the moment: the Volunteers can’t stop the 3-pointer.
That’s a major problem because Iowa can really stroke it from deep. Tennessee has given up 15 3-pointers in both of its past two games, and while they were able to do enough to handle Colgate, there’s little chance that they can overcome Iowa if the Hawkeyes get hot from the outside.
Success. Both of these teams had struggled down the stretch, and both needed to see something on the positive side of the ledger to build their confidence back up. Iowa got it in taking control of the game with Cincinnati, and while Tennessee seemed to have it after beating Kentucky in the SEC tournament, the Volunteers followed up by getting ripped by Auburn and then struggling with Colgate.
This begs the question: has Iowa rebuilt its confidence, and where is Tennessee’s confidence at right now? When a team is playing well and then suffers a terrible loss, that often leaves it vulnerable for a game or two, and that appears to be the case for Tennessee. For whatever reason, Rick Barnes’ team doesn’t seem to be in the right mindset at the moment. Iowa hadn’t been in the right mindset for a month, but the way it beat Cincinnati often proves to be a tonic. If the Hawkeyes do have the momentum, an upset is possible.
Iowa will Cover if:
The Hawkeyes can get Jordan Bohannon free to hit from the outside. Luka Garza did most of the damage against Cincinnati, but that isn’t sustainable long-term. Garza is just an average 3-point shooter who had a great day. Bohannon, however, is an excellent deep shooter, and along with Joe Wieskamp, he gives Iowa the weapons it needs to play with Tennessee. If he’s hot from outside, it’s going to be the Hawkeyes’ day.
Tennessee will Cover if:
The Volunteers can get Grant Williams involved. Williams is thought to be a national player of the year candidate, but he didn’t play like it against Colgate. The Raiders were able to hold him to nine points on just 4-for-6 shooting, and that kind of performance won’t get it done against Iowa. The Volunteers need to make sure that he’s involved early and often to get the most out of their offense and attack Iowa’s middling interior defense.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Two weeks ago, if you had asked me to pick this game, I would have bet heavily on Tennessee. But the Volunteers aren’t doing things correctly on defense at the moment, and they’re facing a team that’s shooting the 3 very well as of late. I do not love the idea of picking an Iowa team that faded down the stretch, but the reality of the situation is that the Hawkeyes are succeeding at the one thing you need to do well in order to beat Tennessee, and the Volunteers are giving up way too many open looks at the basket.
With Wieskamp and Bohannon, Iowa has the ability to stay with Tennessee, and the fact that I’m getting eight points to take a Hawkeyes squad that looked good in the second half of Friday’s game makes it easier to stomach. I’ll go with the Hawkeyes to keep things close for the cover.