The Tennessee Volunteers have won six of their last seven games. They already own a victory in this NCAA tournament, and they are the only No. 11 seed in the tournament to be favored against a No. 6 seed.
The Vols will try to keep rolling when they challenge the Massachusetts Minutemen in the Midwest Region's No. 6 vs. No. 11 game on Friday afternoon in Raleigh.
The computer agrees with the oddsmakers, but Tennessee has been a money pit at this stage of the tournament over the years, stumbling to a 1-6-1 ATS record since 2000.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Volunteers opened as four-point favorites; the total was 136 early Thursday. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Tennessee to cover the spread
The Volunteers earned an at-large bid after finishing fourth in the SEC for their first appearance since 2011. Tennessee, with four starters back from a team that went 20-13 last year, started 6-4 this season and sat at 16-11 a month ago.
But the Volunteers finished the season on a 5-1 run, their only loss coming to Florida in the SEC tournament. The Vols then beat Iowa in a play-in game Wednesday night, winning 78-65 in overtime. Tennessee starts three seniors, and while the Vols are average offensively, they've held opponents to 61 points per game this season.
Why pick Massachusetts to cover the spread
The No. 6 Minutemen are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998, earning an at-large bid after finishing fifth in an Atlantic 10 Conference that sent six teams to the Big Dance. With four starters back from a team that went 21-12 last year, UMass started this season 16-1 with wins over Nebraska, New Mexico, BYU, Providence and St. Joseph's. That propelled them toward a long-awaited tournament berth.
The Minutemen start three seniors and can go big, with three starters who are 6'8" or taller. On the season, UMass is shooting 46 percent from the floor and holding foes to 42 percent shooting. They stumbled down the stretch (0-6 against the spread).
Smart betting pick
Tennessee is trending upward, and Massachusetts has lost three of its last five games. UMass is also 0-6 against the spread over its last six games. The Vols play a little better defense and do a little better job on the boards.
This should be a good, tough, close game, but Tennessee's toughness and depth should prevail. Take the Vols.
Tennessee Volunteers: No. 15
Massachusetts Minutemen: No. 82 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Tennessee is 5-1 ATS in its last six games
- Tennessee is 1-6-1 ATS in eight tournament openers since 2000
- UMass ended year on 0-6 ATS run
- First tournament for UMass since 1998