Tennessee forward Alec Kegler dribbles two balls during practice before a Sweet 16 college basketball game at the NCAA East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Tennessee vs. FAU matchup for Sweet 16

The Florida Atlantic Owls have had an exciting run in the NCAA Tournament. After punching their ticket to the Sweet 16, FAU will take on No. 4 seed Tennessee in Madison Square Garden tonight at 9 p.m.

Underdog FAU

FAU’s first game was an 8-9 matchup where they took down No. 8 Memphis with a close final of 66-65. They then advanced to play No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, who upset No. 1 seed Purdue. Even though FDU had a major upset in their bag upon entering the round of 32 game, the Owls outplayed FDU and came out on top, winning 78-70.

Guard Johnell Davis became the first player in the NCAA Tournament history to score 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 5+ steals in a single game. The sophomore leads the team with 13.9 points per game. Davis averages 50% in FG and 38.8% in 3PT for the season.

Florida Atlantic is among the top 15 in the country for offensive efficiency. On paper, FAU has the offensive advantage over the Volunteers. The team has an overall 47.2% inside the arc and 37.2% beyond the 3PT line. The Owls also only have an average of 11.8 turnovers per game.

FAU also has the third-longest active winning streak in the country, with nine games. The Owls sit at 33-3 overall, and its 33 victories tie with Houston’s for the most in college basketball this year.

This is the program’s first Sweet 16 in program history


The defensive beast that is Tennessee

On the other end of the spectrum, Tennessee is a defensive beast. The Vols only allow 26.4% shooting from beyond the arc and allow 19.6 FG per game.

Tennessee took down a freshman-heavy Duke team to advance to the Sweet 16. The Vols ended Duke’s 10-game winning streak, the second longest in the nation. The game was physical, with medical attention for Duke and fouls for Tennessee.

Although they are nationally ranked in defense, Tennessee has struggled offensively. Since starting point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a season-ending injury,  seniors Santiago Vescovi and Olivier Nkamhoua have stepped up. Nkamhoua shot 23 of the team’s 38 points in the second half against Duke and Vescovi registered 14 total points.

This will be Tennessee’s first time in the Sweet 16 since the 2019 OT loss to Purdue.

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