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No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 Oregon St. preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Tennessee Volunteers and Oregon State Beavers meet at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Could Oregon State be the surprise of the Midwest region?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 Oregon State as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Tennessee: -8.5: 35% of action, 29% of bets
Oregon State: +8.5: 65% of action, 71% of bets

Over 131: 43% of action, 72% of bets
Under 131: 57% of action, 28% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Tennessee vs. Oregon State as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Tennessee -8 31% of handle, 33% of bets
Oregon State +8: 69% of handle, 67% of bets
Over 130: 31% of handle, 79% of bets
Under 130: 69% of handle, 21% of bets

The Tennessee Volunteers earned the No. 5 seed and are set to take on the Oregon State Beavers, who made a run through the Pac-12 Tournament and likely ruined Selection Sunday for the Louisville Cardinals. This game will take place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday, March 19th at 4:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on TNT.

No. 5 Tennessee: 18-8 (10-7 SEC): At-large

KenPom rating: 21 Overall, 71 Offense, 4 Defense
NET ranking: 13, (6-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Jaden Springer
Key stat: Tennessee has seven players who average at least 24 minutes per game, and John Fulkerson might be out after he was elbowed in the head twice during an SEC Tournament game against Florida.

Defense is far and away the best thing the Volunteers do as you can see by their adjusted defensive efficiency at No. 4 in the country. Tennessee ranked right around the middle of the pack in the SEC in many of the major offensive categories, though the Volunteers had the third best free throw percentage at 74.6%.

Watch for freshman guard Jaden Springer to try and take over this game. He doesn’t shoot as much as he should with the third most shot attempts on the team, but he’s shooting 44.4% from three, 47% from the field and 80.6% on free throws. Keep an eye on the injury status of Fulkerson, who will be key if the Vols intend to make a run.

No. 12 Oregon State: 17-12 (10-10 PAC-12): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 85 Overall, 65 Offense, 117 Defense
NET ranking: 91 (5-5 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Ethan Thompson
Key stat: Junior forward Warith Alatishe ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in blocks per game with 1.4.

Oregon State slid right into a No. 12 speed after winning three straight games in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Beavers do not have all that impressive of numbers, which is why they would’ve been on the outside looking in without a conference championship. Their best asset is their ability to defend from the three-point line, allowing 30.7% on opponent 3-pointers, which is the best in the Pac-12.

Watch for Warith Alatishe to have a big game in the post against an undersized Tennessee team, especially if they’re without Fulkerson.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Tennessee -7
Point total: 131.5
Moneyline: Tennessee -315, Oregon State +255

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Tennessee -7
Point total pick: Under 131.5
Pick to Win: Tennessee

Tennessee does not have a very deep team especially if Fulkerson is unable to go, but that might be okay in a matchup with Oregon State, which plays at a very slow pace. The Volunteers must avoid getting into any sort of foul trouble but regardless, Oregon State simply isn’t good enough on either end of the floor to hang with this team. Volunteers will cover and their defense combined with Oregon State’s style, the under will cash.