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Updated Tennessee Volunteers College Basketball National Championship Odds and Season Outlook

The Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball team is off to an 8-3 start to the season and currently have top-10 odds to win the national championship on the top sports betting apps.

Each of their three losses so far this season have come from highly ranked teams, and each of the losses have been competitive. The Vols lost those games by an average of just seven points to No. 2 Purdue, No. 1 Kansas, and No. 17 North Carolina. All in all, they have played one of the toughest schedules in college hoops to this point and have shown they have what it takes to compete at the highest level. 

With conference play quickly approaching, we’re taking a look at the Vols’ national championship odds and season outlook. 

Tennessee Volunteers National Championship odds

Here is a look at where the Vols currently sit on the odds boards from the top sports betting apps in the National Championship markets.

Caesars Sportsbook: Tennessee +2500

Tied for ninth best odds with Creighton. Arizona and Purdue tied for first at +1000.

FanDuel Sportsbook: Tennessee +2600

Tied for ninth best odds with Duke and Baylor. Purdue first at +850.

DraftKings Sportsbook: Tennessee +2200

Tied for ninth best odds with Duke. Purdue first with +900. Arizona and UConn second at +1000.

BetMGM Sportsbook: Tennessee +2000

Tied for seventh best odds with Kentucky, Creighton, and Baylor. Purdue first at +900.

Tennessee Volunteers Season Review

The Vols have shown the ability to adapt depending on who their opponent is. They showed their defensive prowess by holding Purdue to just 71 points – 15 points below their season average. They also showed their ability to elevate offensively by keeping pace with the Tar Heels’ high-scoring offense in a 100-92 loss. The Vols put up 53 points in the second half in their comeback attempt. 

It’s clear Tennessee has the pieces to compete, but they are still working to put it all together. Up to this point in the season, the offense and defense has not shown up together consistently just yet. Whether or not they can do so as the season progresses will make it more clear how far this team can go come March. 

Impact Players to Monitor

If the Vols are to have a deep March Madness run this season, there are a few players who must perform well, especially in tight games. 

Dalton Knecht

The Northern Colorado Bears transfer leads the Vols in scoring this season, averaging 16.5 points on 46% shooting from the field. He has shown explosiveness this season, putting up 37 points against North Carolina, but he also showed that his lows can be pretty low. In Tennessee’s last game, he only scored two points on 1-for-7 from the field. In the game prior, he finished with just seven points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field.

Tennessee is 78th in the nation in scoring, averaging 78 points per contest. Knecht is a big part of that, and he hasn’t played up to par as of late. How and if he can turn it around is critical to their championship aspirations. To win it all, they’ll need to keep pace with explosive offenses, two of which reside in the SEC in Kentucky and Alabama.

Santiago Vescovi

The Vols’ senior guard is one of their most experienced players and a much needed sharp shooter. However, he is shooting a career low from deep at just 29.5% from beyond the arc so far this season. Prior to this season, his lowest shooting percentage from three-point range was 36% on more than five looks per game. He has had big games from deep in 2023, but he has done so very sporadically.

In 33 games last season, he only scored in single digits nine times. In 11 games this season, he has scored single digits eight times, including a scoreless game against UNC in a high-scoring affair. If his poor performance continues, the Vols’ won’t have the firepower for a deep run come March.

Key Games Upcoming for Tennessee

Currently, the No. 8 Volunteers are the highest ranked SEC team in the country, coming in one spot ahead of conference foe No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats already have two impressive wins over No. 8 Miami and then No. 9 UNC. They also came within just five points of defeating Kansas. The Wildcats are primed to be a disruptor and challenge for the SEC this year, although Tennessee is favored to win the conference outright. 

There are many questions surrounding the Volunteers, and they will have plenty of additional chances to find out who they are before March arrives. Here are a few key games to keep an eye out for as the season progresses. 

Saturday, Jan. 6 – No. 25 Ole Miss @ No. 7 Tennessee

Saturday, Jan. 20 – Alabama @ No. 7 Tennessee

Saturday, Feb. 3 – No. 7 Tennessee @ No. 9 Kentucky

Wednesday, Feb. 28 – No. 7 Tennessee @ Auburn

Saturday, March 2 – No. 7 Tennessee @ Alabama

Saturday, March 9 – No. 9 Kentucky @ No. 7 Tennessee

Strengths for the Volunteers

Despite the up-and-down nature of the Vols this season, there is a reason they are ranked so high. Tennessee has played a variety of competitive teams already this season, including four ranked opponents. However, they still top 15 in opponent field goal percentage in the country. Forcing teams into inefficient nights will be pivotal for them.

There aren’t many explosive scorers on the roster, so swinging the ball and finding the open man is their only hope at finding the offensive production they will need come March. Currently, they are 31st in the nation in assists per game with 16 assists on 26.9 made buckets per game. 

Weaknesses for Tennessee

Tennessee has a well-rounded roster with plenty of talent, but there are a few weaknesses that could prevent them from achieving their ultimate goal this season. 

The Vols have multiple players playing poorly offensively at the moment who they rely heavily on for production. Their 26.9 made shots per contest is 103rd in the country. Their SEC foe Kentucky is second in the country with 33 makes per contest, and Alabama is ninth in the country with 30.7 makes per contest. That’s a vast difference that should draw the concern of their coaching staff.

Size is not on Tennessee’s side, and it shows in their rebounding numbers. The Vols are 45th in the country in total rebounds per game, securing only 39.6 per contest. In their three losses, they were out-rebounded by a total of 28. That’s in large part due to having to go to guard-heavy lineups to generate offense. Against Purdue that led to a 17-10 offensive rebound advantage for the Boilermakers. Against UNC, it led to a 12-7 advantage for the Tar Heels in offensive rebounds. 

Finding a way to secure boards when they go small is another part of the game the Vols must find a way to improve upon deeper into the season.

Tennessee Volunteers Season Prediction

Barring a barrage of injuries, the Volunteers are certain to earn a March Madness Tournament bid. However, at this point in time it’s hard to imagine them winning more than two games due to how inconsistent their offense has been. They struggled scoring the ball last year, and their lack of offense ended up being their downfall in the Sweet 16 against Florida Atlantic. This year, their offensive struggles are even more alarming. In addition, their defense doesn’t appear to be as good as it was last year. 

There is still plenty of time for things to change, but there are glaring issues that the Vols need to address, which makes taking them to win it all a pretty risky wager at this point in time.

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