The matchup of 11-seeds opened with Tennessee giving up a bucket. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds presently show 142.5 for the scoreboard hurdle after the total started a point higher.
The Hawkeyes and Vols are meeting for just the fourth time ever, and the first since the 2000 Rainbow Classic. Tennessee won that contest, 67-62, after Iowa took the previous two matchups in 1967 and 1977.
This was supposed to have been a rematch from a Battle 4 Atlantis contest last November, but the Volunteers were upset by UTEP in the opening round of that tournament. That sent the Miners into the second round instead against the Hawkeyes, and Iowa advanced from there before eventually falling in overtime to Villanova in the championship game.
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Hawkeyes Limp Into Dance On 3-Game Skid
It has been a tough year for Fran McCaffery on and off the court. Iowa (20-12 SU, 15-15 ATS) slumped badly the last few weeks losing six of seven, and exited the Big Ten Tournament after just one very poor performance.
McCaffery is also dealing with s sick child, and will spend most of Tuesday and Wednesday traveling back and forth from Iowa City. His son is having surgery Wednesday, so McCaffery will be flying back from Dayton Tuesday evening to be with his family before returning to the First Four game to be on the sidelines with his team.
The Hawkeyes' early 1-&-done at the conference tournament was the result of a 67-62 loss to Northwestern, a game Iowa was favored by 14. It was the worst shooting effort of the year for the Hawkeyes who managed to net only 20-of-62 field goals, going 6-for-24 from 3-point range. Iowa really stunk it up in the second half, making good on 9-of-34 (26%) from the field, 0-for-8 from long range.
It marked the seventh consecutive game Hawkeye backers dropped the cash. Iowa climbed as high as 14th in the polls this season before the wheels began falling off in late-January. The Hawkeyes were 3-6 straight up and against the spread against the other five Big Ten teams to make the tournament -- Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska.
Vols Slip In After Near-Miss In SEC Tourney
While the Hawkeyes nearly dropped out of the Last 4 In with the late slump, Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee (21-13 SU, 16-13-2 ATS) had just enough to climb into the mix, needing a good showing in a tough loss to Florida on Saturday to make the Field of 68.
The Volunteers won their final four regular season contests, then took out South Carolina in last Friday's SEC quarterfinals, 59-44. Favored by 14, Jarnell Stokes scored 22 for the Vols to help UT backers cash a fourth consecutive game.
Tennessee looked as if it was going to pull off an upset in Saturday's semifinals vs. the Gators, who had won 19 consecutive SEC games entering that matchup. Six point underdogs, the Volunteers took a 7-point lead into the locker room before Florida's defense caught up with them in the second half for a 56-49 Gators victory. The final didn't make it to the 123.5 point total, the fifth straight 'under' for Tennessee.
Momentum would seem to be on the Volunteers' side entering the NCAA Tournament, but I still don't trust them. Instead, I'm sending out my free NCAA basketball pick on the total with a play on the low side.
My pick: Iowa-Tennessee Under 142.5