3 bold predictions for Texas vs. Tennessee in Round of 32

Texas basketball has the tall task of facing the two-seed Tennessee in order to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.

Dylan Disu, Texas basketball
Dylan Disu, Texas basketball / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas basketball is back in the Round of 32 for the third year in a row. Head coach Rodney Terry and seven-seed Texas face the two-seed Tennessee Volunteers and former UT head coach Rick Barnes in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 23.

Texas basketball looking to upset Tennessee and Rick Barnes in the Round of 32

Texas and Tennessee both took care of business in the Round of 64 on March 21 in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament by convincing double-digit margins. The Longhorns defeated the 10-seed Colorado State Rams in a gritty, low-scoring affair by a score of 56-44 in the first round.

Tennessee was extremely dominant in its Round of 64 victory over the 15-seed Saint Peter's, by a score of 83-49.

This is one of the more anticipated matchups in the Round of 32 in the Midwest Region largely because it is the first time that Barnes is facing his former team in the postseason.

Texas and Tennessee did meet during the 2022-23 regular season as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. And these two teams will meet in the near future on the hardwood as SEC foes.

Here are three bold predictions for the Round of 32 matchup in the Midwest Region on March 23 between 7-seed Texas and 2-seed Tennessee.

Max Abmas is held under 15 points for the second straight game

Senior guard Max Abmas had an insane scoring run when he led the 15-seed Oral Roberts all the way to the Sweet 16 in improbable fashion during the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Abmas scored at least 25 points in all three games Oral Roberts played in the Big Dance in 2021.

Abmas's March Madness success in 2021 didn't translate, though, in his first NCAA Tournament game in a Texas uniform in the win over Colorado State on March 21. Both Abmas and senior big man Dylan Disu were slow starters on the offensive end in the first half for Texas against Colorado State.

In a game that wound up being a rockfight, Abmas could never consistently find a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

The outlook for Abmas to find a scoring spark against a solid Tennessee perimeter defense in the Round of 32 isn't very promising on paper. Tennessee is accustomed to being a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end under Barnes. This year seems to be no different.

The Vols rank 12th in the nation in defensive rating and 31st in three-point field goal percentage allowed. Abmas will be challenged on the perimeter in this game against Tennessee's top defensive guards, senior Santiago Vescovi and junior Zakai Zeigler, both of which ranked in the top five among SEC guards in defensive box plus/minus this season.