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PREVIEW: #5 Villanova vs #17 Tennessee

The Wildcats will take on the Volunteers in the first round of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament

NCAA Basketball: Howard at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch:

Date: Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Time: 1:00pm EST

Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena - Uncasville, Connecticut

TV: ESPN News (John Sciambi & Fran Fraschilla)

Streaming: WatchESPN

Betting Odds

Spread: TENN: +2.5 (-110) | NOVA: -2.5 (-110)

Moneyline: TENN: +118 | NOVA -147

Total: 142.5

via: Action Network

The Villanova Wildcats (2-1) are set to face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) in the first game of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament. Regardless of the result, both teams will play on Sunday (in either the championship, or consolation game) against North Carolina or Purdue, depending on the result of their game, respectively.

This highly anticipated matchup between Tennessee and Villanova was picked as the Big East Coast Bias Game of the Week (which you can read all about here) and for good reason.

Tennessee’s freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler is outstanding. Although he has only played two official games with the Vols, he leads the team in scoring with 18 points per game. In addition to Chandler, the Volunteers will rely heavily on their Finnish forward Olivier Nkamhoua. The junior is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game and is certainly the anchor of the defense. The Volunteers have won both games they have played convincingly, but this matchup with Villanova will not only be their first ranked matchup of the year, but it ill also be their first game away from home all season. Although this is technically a neutral site game, Villanova always seems to have a good turnout when visiting Mohegan Sun Arena. While boasting four players 6’10” and up, Tennessee does not control the paint particularly well, setting up this matchup to be a shootout that the Vols certainly have the firepower to come away with.

As for Villanova, this will be their second game away from home, and their second ranked matchup of the year, after falling to UCLA in overtime just over a week ago. The Wildcats will be led by Justin Moore, who is having an outstanding start to his junior campaign, averaging 19 points per game, while connecting on 58.8% of the 17 three pointers he has attempted to start the year. As always, Collin Gillespie will be another name to watch in this one as he will look to continue his hot streak after putting the proverbial nail in the coffin on Tuesday against Howard. Where this game will be won or lost is in the paint, so look for Eric Dixon to impose his will early and often against an exploitable front-court.

If you like three pointers and gritty defense, this is going to be the game for you. Both teams are ranked in the top five in the country in three point shooting and I would expect more of the same in this game. Led by Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee is certainly a formidable opponent, but I do not foresee them having the depth or interior defense to hang with Villanova for all forty minutes. For Villanova to be successful, not only in this game but going forward, Jay Wright will certainly have to address his defense. I am confident it will improve, but how much and how quickly are still yet to be determined. I expect this to be a high scoring affair with Villanova ultimately prevailing in the clash of the ranked teams.

My Prediction: 76-68 Villanova