Last Updated Mar 17, 2022, 2:38 PM

Longwood Lancers vs. Tennessee Volunteers Picks, Predictions, Odds

SEC Tournament Champion Tennessee will open the NCAA Tournament Thursday afternoon facing Big South Tournament champion Longwood. This game is at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, scheduled for 2:45 PM ET, though that time will be adjusted according to the preceding game in Indianapolis between Colorado State and Michigan. 

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Score Prediction

Tennessee 72, Longwood 54

Best Bet


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Tennessee is looking to make amends from a disappointing 2021 NCAA Tournament appearance, losing in the Round of 64 as a #5 seed to Oregon State in an ugly 70-56 performance, ironically in this same building. Rick Barnes is 149-80 at Tennessee but his teams have lost earlier than expected in all three NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2018 Tennessee lost as a #3 seed in the Round of 32, and in 2019 as a #2 seed the Volunteers lost in the Sweet 16. 

The Volunteers are one of the nation’s best defensive teams but can be inconsistent on offense. Tennessee is reliant on 3-point shots and has four starters that have taken at least 117 3-point shots this season, but only Santiago Vescovi could be considered an excellent 3-point shooter at over 39%. 

Longwood was the clear top team in the Big South, going 15-1 in the regular season but the Lancers were nearly ousted in the first conference tournament game, needing overtime to beat North Carolina A&T. Longwood fell behind USC Upstate by 16 points in the conference semifinal round before pulling away late but the Lancers put it all together in a dominant championship performance against Winthrop, winning by 21 points. 

Looking for a substantial upset, Longwood has some similarities to Tennessee as a strong 3-point shooting team, hitting over 38 percent. The 3-point defense for Longwood is solid as well, allowing just 31 percent this season as the vulnerability comes inside. That is not the strength of the Volunteers, who were the worst 2-point field goal percentage team in the SEC this season and feature a relatively small lineup by SEC standards, especially with Olivier Nkamhoua lost for the season in February. 


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  • Date: Thursday, March 17, 2022
  • Matchup: No. 14 vs. No. 3
  • Region: South
  • Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • TV-Time: CBS - 2:45 p.m. ET


Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 26-6
  • ATS: 20-9
  • O/U: 16-12-1

Longwood faced one of the weakest strengths of schedule in the entire nation as valuing the statistics posted by the Lancers is difficult. The only two major conference teams that Longwood faced were Iowa in the season opener (106-73 loss) and Georgetown in late November (91-83 loss). The Big South grades as the 25th best conference in the nation, well behind the SEC as well.

Longwood finished the season with a terrific against the spread record at 19-9 and this is a team that has scored at least 70 points in seven of its last eight games despite a below average pace of play on the season. The great ATS record is built on Longwood going 13-2 ATS when favored by seven or fewer points as Longwood only played five games all season in which they were an underdog, with the season opener in Iowa City at +19.5 the only reasonable comparison game to Tennessee. 

The ’over’ hit in five of Longwood’s final eight games and the Lancers wound up averaging 76.1 points per game on the season. Allowing only 65.1 points per game portrays the Lancers as a quality defensive team but given the scoring allowed in the two toughest non-conference games, defending Tennessee will be problematic for Griff Aldrich’s team in the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.


Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 26-7
  • ATS: 20-13
  • O/U: 14-19

Winning and covering in three games in three days has raised the profile of Tennessee and the defense impressed allowing 59, 62, and 50 points in those three games. Tennessee did face Presbyterian (86-44 win at -24.5) and USC Upstate (96-52 win at -35.5) of the Big South in the non-conference season, delivering convincing wins and covers, scores that don’t bode well for Longwood, who went 3-0 vs. those two teams but with modest margins of victory. 

Tennessee only averaged 73.6 points per game this season but scored at least 80 points in all four games vs. teams that grade outside the nation’s top 250, averaging 88 points per game. Tennessee had a perfect record at home but was just 7-7 S/U in road and neutral site games before the SEC Tournament run in Tampa. While the defense excelled in that run that only featured one win against a NCAA Tournament team, the road numbers for Tennessee defensively were significantly worse this season, allowing five more points than its season average. 

Tennessee shot just 19 percent on 3-point shots in last season’s tournament game as hitting those outside shots will be the key to the Volunteers pulling away in this game. In six of seven losses this season Tennessee failed to top 68 points as the offense will be what holds the Volunteers back if another early tournament exit is in store for Barnes, with Tennessee a program that has never reached the Final Four. 

Tennessee has won the 1H in seven of its last eight games vs. non-AP-ranked schools. (AP)


  • Record: 26-6
  • PS/G: 76.3 (50th)
  • PA/G: 65.1 (54th)


  • Record: 26-7
  • PS/G: 73.2 (120th)
  • PA/G: 62.8 (24th)


  • LONG: Justin Hill - G (14.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.2 apg)
  • LONG: Isaiah Wilkins - G (12.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
  • TENN: Graham Ike - F (19.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51.6 FG%)
  • TENN: Hunter Maldonado - G (18.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 50.1 FG%)


The contrasting schedules and Tennessee’s dominant results vs. the Big South will make an underdog play a risky option in this contest, even with the poor recent NCAA Tournament track record for Tennessee. The Volunteers are a risk to be slightly overvalued off the SEC Tournament championship, but this is a favorable draw with Longwood clearly weaker than at least two of the other #14 seeds Montana State and Colgate. 

The path to stay in this game for Longwood will be to slow the pace and try to turn this game into a 3-point shooting contest, where they have a chance to compete. With Isaiah Wilkins and DeShaun Wade both hitting 3-point shots at over 40%, the Lancers could provide an early scare to Tennessee but likely can’t hang on for 40 minutes to provide a serious upset threat.

Low quality desperation shots late in the game seem likely while Tennessee could milk the clock in the second half to keep the scoring trajectory lower with Tennessee holding its two Big South foes to just 44 and 52 points in the non-conference season. The interior offensive scoring efficiency is rather poor for both teams and neither team is an exceptional free throw shooting team as the scoring pace projects to stay just ‘under’ the number. 



  • Longwood has covered the spread in three straight games when playing on a neutral court.
  • Longwood has covered the spread in four of its last six games when playing as the underdog. 
  • Longwood has covered the spread in 20 of its last 29 games.
  • Tennessee has covered the spread in four of its last five game when playing on a neutral court. 
  • Tennessee has won 12 of its last 13 games. 
  • Tennessee has gone UNDER the point total in four of its last six games.
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