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No. 9 FAU vs. No. 4 Tennessee preview, picks for Sweet 16 of 2023 NCAA Tournament

The Owls and the Vols meet at Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Duke v Tennessee Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls take on the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers at Madison Square Garden for a Sweet 16 matchup on Thursday, March 23. The game will air on TBS at 9 p.m. ET. Tennessee enters as a 5.5-point favorite.

No. 9 Florida Atlantic (33-3, 18-2 CUSA)

First-round result: Defeated Memphis, 66-65
Second-round result: Defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 78-70
KenPom rating: 25 Overall, 31 Offense, 36 Defense
NET ranking: 13, (2-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Johnell Davis, 13.4 PPG
Key stat: Averages 78.4 ppg (32nd in the nation)

FAU pulled out a close one over Memphis in the first round, largely winning by simply getting more looks than Memphis. Despite their shooting percentages and rebounding numbers being around the same or even lower than the Tigers’, FAU took more scoring opportunities. They played the villain in the second round with a win over FDU, though the Knights kept it neck-and-neck until the very end. They struggled to pull away for much of the second half.

FAU was led by Johnell Davis with 29 points and 12 rebounds against FDU. Eight players saw double-digit minutes on the court.

No. 4 Tennessee (25-10, 11-7 SEC)

First-round result: Defeated Louisiana, 58-55
Second-round result: Defeated Duke, 65-52
KenPom rating: 6 Overall, 49 Offense, 2 Defense
NET ranking: 4, (7-7 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Santiago Vescovi, 12.8 PPG
Key stat: Holds opponents to 57.8 ppg (3rd in the nation)

Tennessee held off a late-game comeback attempt from Louisiana in the first round but shot a solid 45.7% from the field and got an early lead that the Ragin’ Cajuns could never quite erase. They shocked Duke, doubling the Blue Devils’ offensive rebounding numbers and getting hot from the three with a 42.9% success rate at the perimeter. The Vols’ physical, hard-nosed defense made all the difference there, as did their veteran lineup going up against the Duke frosh.

The Vols were led by Olivier Nkamhoua with 27 points. They have plenty of depth, with nine players getting double-digit minutes against Duke.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Tennessee -5.5
Point total: 130.5
Moneyline: Tennessee -245, FAU +205

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: FAU +5.5
Point total pick: Over 130.5
Pick to Win: Tennessee -245

FAU is going to keep it close here, but Tennessee’s defense will be too much to overcome in the end. The Vols have found their footing again after struggling in the latest weeks of the season, and they should be headed for the Elite Eight this weekend.