The First Round of the South Regional pits the 14th-seeded Longwood Lancers (26-6) against the three-seeded Tennessee Volunteers (26-7).
Longwood, the Big South Conference winner, is making the school’s first appearance in the Big Dance while Tennessee returns for its 24th appearance in fourth in a row.
Thursday’s tip-off is at 2:45 p.m. EST inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Live coverage of the contest will be carried on CBS. Tennessee is an 18-point favorite in the opener, and the over-under total is currently at 132.0 points.
What to Know – #14 Longwood Lancers
The Lancers carry an eight-game winning streak into the opening round matchup after closing out the regular season with five wins in a row and victorious throughout the three rounds of the conference tournament. Longwood is ranked 139th in the KenPom and 125th in the NCAA NET rankings.
The Lancers scored 76.4 points per game on offense, shooting 45.2% from the field and 37.9% from the 3-point line. Longwood’s defense limited opponents to 65.0 points per game, 42.8% shooting from the floor, and 31.1% shooting from deep.
First-Team All-Big South selection Justin Hill led the Longwood offense averaging 14.2 points per game. Isaiah Wilkins added 12.8 ppg, and DeShaun Wade, an Honorable Mention All-Big South member, scored 12.0 ppg and hit 40.5% of his attempts from the arc.
Longwood was 20-9 against the spread with a 3-0 record on a neutral floor. Over their last ten contests, the Lancers 7-3 ATS played in March.
What to Know – #3 Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee is fresh off winning the SEC Tournament title after a tie for second in the regular season. The Vols are one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 12 of its last 13 games. Tennessee sits in seventh in both the KenPom and the NET rankings.
The Vols offense averages 73.2 points per game, hitting 43% of their shots from the floor and 35.9% of their shots from three. On defense, Tennessee surrendered 62.8 points per game, 40% shooting from the field, and 31.2% from the arc.
Freshman and All-SEC Second Team honoree Kennedy Chandler paced the Vols offense scoring 13.8 points per game. All-First Team member Santiago Vescovi added 13.4 ppg. Zakai Zeigler was productive off the bench during his rookie campaign, leading to All-Freshman and All-Defensive honors.
Tennessee went 20-13 ATS during the regular season and 4-1 in neutral-site contests. The Vols 5-2 ATS in their previous seven games as the favorite.
The Pick is In
Both teams are riding high after winning their respective conference tournaments, and the Lancers would love to become the next Cinderella Story of March Madness.
The problem, their opponent is led by a veteran coach, and the lineup is built to make a deep run. Longwood may give Tennessee fits early, but the Vols’ talent and depth prevail in a First Round knockout against the Lancers.
Betting Pick: Tennessee Volunteers -18