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NCAA Men’s Tournament Edition: Tennessee Volunteers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Opponent Preview

Can the Vols make it to the Sweet 16?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Colgate Raiders vs Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee needs a bigger contribution from Grant Williams on Sunday.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After dispatching the Colgate Raiders, the Tennessee Volunteers will now turn to the next opponent in the Iowa Hawkeyes. (12:10 p.m. ET)

As expected, the Raiders’ ability to hit from the perimeter gave the Vols trouble and now Tennessee will face off against a team that shot 50 percent from beyond the arc against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

With that being said, let’s dive into our opponent preview for Round 2.

Conference Record and Standings

  • Big Ten Conference
  • 23-11 (10-10)
  • 6th Big Ten
  • Won last game

Impact Players

  • F Luka Garza: 20.0 PPG, 72.7 FG%, 66.0 FT%, 66.0 3PT%, 7.0 REB, N/A BLK, N/A AST, 1.0 TO, 32.0 MIN

Garza had an incredible first game. It felt like every shot he took went in and he was stout on the defensive side of the ball, too.

He will be responsible for matching up with Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander. Alexander has had trouble when opponents are matched up size-wise, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can overcome Garza’s presence.

If Garza gets hot from the outside like he did in the first game, then it’ll be a long day for Tennessee.

  • F Tyler Cook: 5.0 PPG, 11.1 FG%, 60.0 FT%, N/A 3PT%, 5.0 REB, N/A BLK, 4.0 AST, 1.0 TO, 20.0 MIN

Don’t pay attention to his stats from the first game. Cook is arguably the team’s best player and simply had a rough game in the first round, fouling out in the second half.

He was the team’s leading scorer throughout the season and led the team in rebounds. A true inside presence, Cook allows the team’s snipers to hit the outside shots.

But if he does in get in foul trouble, then Garza can take over like we saw in the first game. The combination of Cook and Garza is bound to give Tennessee trouble on Sunday.

  • G Jordan Bohannon: 13.0 PPG, 50.0 FG%, 50.0 FT%, 25.0 3PT%, 5.0 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.0 TO, N/A STL, 38.0 MIN

Bohannon is your prototypical hustler. He is a quick little guy that can drive, distribute, and drain it from the perimeter.

But Jordan Bone should be able to contain Bohannon. Lamonte Turner will be key to defending him as well.

He’ll get his points no matter what, but if the Vols can get Bohannon to pass more than shoot, they’ll be in good shape.

**Please note these stats reflect NCAA Tournament stats**

Most Recent

Iowa (+4.5) survived a slow start and a 13-point first half deficit en route to a 79-72 upset of the Bearcats in the first round of the tournament.

Garza led the team with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting, which included 2 of 3 from long distance. The Hawkeyes had two other players finish with at least 13 points and showed that they have plenty of options on the offensive side of the ball.

The defense struggled at times, but finally found its footing after a switch to zone confused the Bearcats. It allowed the Hawkeyes to take advantage of some late-game turnovers, and an 11-2 run shut the door on any Bearcat attempt at a comeback.

Game Outlook

Even though the Vols are (-8) the favorite, this game feels like it’s a trap.

The same issues that have haunted Tennessee cropped up against Colgate and it’s the same issues that allowed Iowa to comeback against Cincinnati.

Turnovers, a lack of penetrations, poor perimeter defense, and no Grant Williams are the four nails that will shut Tennessee’s coffin every time. All of the above must be corrected on Sunday if the Vols want to win.

Iowa has all of the tools to match up with the Vols in the worst way. Garza is another big man that can hit from long distance and Bohannon is a smart, quick, hustling point guard that can score and distribute the ball. Don’t forget Wieskamp, either.

But maybe all of the postgame talk about pregame jitters holds more weight than originally thought. Maybe the anxiety of wanting to play did have a factor on this team.

Regardless, we will find out soon enough on Sunday if the pregame jitters did in fact play a role. If the Vols settle down and play their game, then all should be well by Sunday afternoon. If they continue to play as they have the past two games, then bank on an Iowa victory.

Something tells me the Vols will come around and play like the experienced team they are. I don’t know what that something is - but it’s talkin’ in my ear.

I have a feeling the sweet nothings will turn into a trip to the Sweet 16 and boy, would that be sweet.