When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >
In the East Region first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the #13 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns will square off with the #4 Tennessee Volunteers in Orlando on Thursday night. Tennessee is a double-digit favorite going into this game, but you just never know whether a Rick Barnes-coached team will live up to expectations in March. Here, we break down the beginning of the road to the Final Four for these teams in our Tennessee vs Louisiana Preview.
WSN $2,300 FREE BRACKET CHALLENGE: Details Here
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns got into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Sun Belt championship, defeating South Alabama in the championship game. They have won five games in a row going into the Big Dance, but the Louisiana NCAA Tournament experience is expected to be short-lived as they enter this matchup with Tennessee as the underdog. However, the Ragin’ Cajuns have won as a 13-seed in this tournament before and cannot be ruled out in this matchup.
Looking back at Louisiana March Madness history, they won in a 13 vs 4 matchup in the 1992 NCAA Tournament when they beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round. While the Ragin’ Cajuns have not won a tournament game since then, going 0-5 in first-round games over the last two decades, they can take some confidence from knowing that their program has beaten a Power 5 foe in this spot before.
The key player for Louisiana in this matchup against Tennessee is going to be Jordan Brown, who leads the Ragin’ Cajuns with 19.4 points per game. At 6’11”, Brown has a dimension of a size that the Volunteers do not have to deal with all that often even in a league like the SEC. If he can get going early, the Cajuns could force Tennessee to pack the paint, creating better perimeter shot opportunities.
If there is one question about Brown and the rest of the Cajuns, it is whether they can handle the bright lights of March Madness on CBS. Outside of their conference championship game against an inferior opponent, they have not been on national television this year. Being able to handle that pressure will be much more of a concern for Louisiana than it will be for Tennessee, which could be a factor.
The Tennessee Volunteers finished fifth in the SEC during the regular season but had a disappointing SEC Tournament. They fell in the quarterfinal round of that tournament to Missouri, and have lost two of their last three games going into the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Tennessee NCAA Tournament campaign will begin with more questions about whether Rick Barnes can coach them to a deep run in this tournament, given their past struggles under him.
In six full seasons under Barnes, excluding the 2020 season that was ended prematurely by COVID-19, the Tennessee March Madness history has been bleak at best. The Volunteers have reached the Sweet 16 just once under Barnes in four trips to the tournament, going down in rounds one or two a total of three times. Even though the Vols are favorites to advance in this game, that has not stopped them from faltering under the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament on CBS before.
For the Volunteers, the key to this game is going to be Santiago Vescovi, who has taken a step back this season from a scoring and efficiency standpoint. He still leads the Volunteers in scoring with 12.9 points per game, despite his field goal percentage and free throw percentage both declining from a season ago. He has to be somewhat efficient from the field in order for the Vols to avoid a legitimate sweat in the first round of the tournament.
If Tennessee is to start this tournament with a win, it will likely be on the back of their stout defense. The Volunteers rank third in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 58.0 points per game. If they can continue to play defense at the elite level they have all year, the Volunteers may not need much scoring at all to advance here.
Going into Thursday’s Tennessee vs Louisiana game, the Tennessee Volunteers are favored by 10.5 points. The total for the game is set at 136.5 points, as the defense of the Volunteers has been factored into that number.
When it comes to Tennessee vs Louisiana Picks, the best bet for this game is the under, thanks to the way that Tennessee defends. The Volunteers have gone eight straight games without giving up 80 points, and those games were against opponents in the SEC, which was one of the best conferences in college basketball this year. In this NCAA Tournament first-round matchup, Tennessee features a much softer level of competition, which will only positively impact them on the defensive end of the floor.
On the other end of the court, the Tennessee offense does not exactly inspire confidence that they will propel this game over the total. They average 71.8 points per game, but they are going to control the tempo and keep this game at the slow pace that they like to help the game stay under. Kenpom has the Volunteers playing with the 278th-ranked tempo in college basketball out of 363 Division I teams, and they will successfully slow down the Ragin’ Cajuns in a low-scoring affair.
Location: Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla.
Game Time & Date: Thursday, Mar. 16, 2023, at 9:40 p.m. ET
TV Network: CBS
🔥 Claimed by 41 people this week!
Great payment and customer support
Access to fantasy sports with one account
Bet $5, Get $150 + a No Sweat SGP
21+ | T&Cs apply
Those making their Tennessee vs Louisiana predictions can take advantage of DraftKings Sportsbook’s deposit bonus promotion when doing so. Bettors can get a 20% deposit bonus worth up to $1,000 when making their first deposit before this March Madness first-round matchup. Do not miss out on the added value this offer provides when betting on the NCAA Tournament, as these bonus funds can help bettors build their bankroll as they wager on the biggest event in college basketball.
I am a huge sports fan; locally, many know me as the guy who does the PA for our high school football team on Friday nights. Having grown up in Michigan, I am a sports fan of all the Detroit teams, and at the college level, I love Michigan State sports.More info on Caleb Tallman
© Rebel Penguin ApS 2023 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)
We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.
WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.
Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.