Place: Reed Arena
Line: Tennessee is favored by 11.5
Advanced Metrics via KenPom: Texas A&M has an 11% chance to win
Today is perhaps the clearest sign of how far things have fallen.
In the not-too-distant past, this would have been An Event. A packed house. The biggest home game across all sports in the Spring semester. Instead, the #1 team in the nation is coming to our house… and it feels like another Saturday.
I’ll gamely break this matchup down, but it won’t take you long to see that we’ll need something pretty special to grab a result.
Results of Note
As is often the case, the #1 team in the nation doesn’t have many bumps in the road. Their only loss was on a neutral court (Kansas) and it was a game that went to overtime.
But here’s the ridiculous thing: They are 5-0 on the road with an average margin of victory of 14 points. This team cracks skulls in all locations. Home, road, or anything in between… this is a bad, bad group of guys.
Things to Watch
Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams could very likely be the best 1-2 punch in the country. Schofield is the slightly better shooter, and Williams has the slightly quicker first step… but they are both accomplished, well-rounded scorers. It would not surprise me at all if Schofield made first team All-SEC, and Williams is putting together a legitimate claim for National Player of the Year. He’s an efficient shooter, but he also leads the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (8.1), and he takes advantage by shooting a stellar 83% from the stripe. Regardless of what we do, he’s going to get his.
To be frank, we don’t really have the horses to slow either of these guys down.
The rest of the squad slots in about how you’d expect. Jordan Bone runs the show on offense, and he’s good for 13 points and six assists per game. Jordan Bowden is an efficient (but lower volume) scorer on the wing, and Kyle Alexander patrols the glass, protects the rim, and finishes inside.
Remember that preview on Wednesday where I talked about an LSU squad that was oddly devoid of any weakness? This team is better in literally every regard.
It all starts with Tennessee’s shooting. If they come out and shoot well, we can all go home.
But if they’re off… this team has shown a capacity to surprise teams (Kentucky, Florida, Kansas State) that start slowly. If (and this is a big if) the Vols come out of the gate a bit sluggish, we’ve got a shot at making this a ballgame.