Though they were the higher seed, Tennessee was the clear underdog on Saturday afternoon against Duke. The Blue Devils, coming off of ten straight wins and an ACC title run, were the clear favorites entering the game. The sportsbooks made Duke a 3.5 point favorite, but honestly it felt like it could have been bigger.
No analyst gave the Vols a shot against a red hot Duke team, but on Saturday, Tennessee’s physical brand showed up and showed out. Tennessee manhandled Duke all day long, setting the tone from the opening tip.
The Volunteers led most of the game, taking a six point lead into the halftime break. And then Olivier Nkamhoua showed up. Three-pointers, fade away jumpers, put-back dunks — it was truly the game of his life. Nkamhoua finished with 27 points on 10-13 shooting.
.@Vol_Hoops F Olivier Nkamhoua joined @LaurenShehadi following the win and talked about “living in the mud” ⬇️— March Madness Men’s Basketball TV (@MM_MBB_TV) March 18, 2023
“It means we’re tough…We bring you to our level. We bring you to our world.” pic.twitter.com/FI2zQLogs4
“We bring you to our world.” That’s the perfect description for this Tennessee team. They aren’t pretty, but you better come ready to work if you’re going to beat them. Duke didn’t do that in this spot, and paid the price.
Nkamhoua deservedly was the center of attention in the locker room after the game.
Notice the FaceTime call with Zakai Zeigler, who was unable to attend the game after tearing his ACL in the final week of the regular season. Tennessee will now head to his hometown — New York City — to play in the Sweet 16.
Tennessee will face the winner of FAU-FDU, which will be settled on Sunday.