Kansas vs Tennessee Odds
Battle 4 Atlantis Championship
The Battle 4 Atlantis Championship game is here and we couldn’t ask for a better duel as undefeated #3 Kansas takes on #22 Tennessee.
Kansas is coming off an all-time semifinal game against Wisconsin.
The Jayhawks outlasted Wisconsin in overtime thanks to another outstanding performance from Jalen Wilson.
Dominating both ends of the floor, Wilson finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds. It’s safe to say that Wilson has established himself as the ideal man for Bill Self this season.
Similarly, Tennessee was brought into overtime by USC before going ahead 73-66.
Freshman forward Julian Phillips led the Volunteers with 25 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Phillips recently gained a starting position against sophomore Zakai Zeigler, and the improvement for Tennessee on offense has been significant.
Julian Phillips is beginning to find his seats. He looked efficient today, the middle class jumpers and the three are a welcome sight.
W vs. USC
Now Tennessee gets its first major Test of the season tomorrow with Kansas. pic.twitter.com/rvgP92NXyb
— On The Clock (@OnThe_ClockBB) November 25, 2022
Will Phillips’ game further increase the cap for this Tennessee team? Can Wilson continue to carry the burden for the Jayhawks?
Let’s dive in.
Self and the Kansas Jayhawks started their 2022-23 season right where they left off after last season’s national title.
The Jayhawks are in perfect shape 6-0 with three impressive neutral wins over Duke, NC State and Wisconsin.
You can’t talk about the Jayhawks without first talking about Wilson’s sensational game.
Wilson came out of the gates with 23.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
What matters to this Kansas team is how Self deployed Wilson. With 52% of possession, Self has used Wilson as a small ball center alongside KJ Adams Jr. or Kevin McCullar Jr. at the power forward spot.
That matters for Friday’s matchup with a Tennessee team that will have a significant size advantage leading up.
The Volunteers rotate the 6-foot-11 Jonas Aidoo with the 7-foot-1 Uros Plavsic in center position, and both have a noticeable height advantage over Wilson.
The stylistic contrast between Kansas’ small ball formation and Tennessee’s size is a key dynamic for this duel.
Wilson proved Thursday in the Wisconsin competition that he had no problem taking on 6-foot-9 Tyler Wahl and 7-foot-0 Steven Crowl. Wilson repeatedly called on those taller defenders to guard him past the 3-point line and distribute ground for the entire Kansas offense.
Still waiting to see the lottery agenda for Jalen Wilson…
He had another big game with a win over a relentless Wisconsin team.
— On The Clock (@OnThe_ClockBB) November 25, 2022
A great benefactor of Wilson’s ability to spread the word was McCullar. In his last two games, McCullar has earned a 100+ offensive rating due to his ability to contribute through points, assists and rebounds.
Against the Volunteers, McCuller will need to use his advantage when facing undersized Santiago Vescovi.
A big key to Kansas’ success against Tennessee will be Gradey Dick’s game. The 6-foot-8 freshman sniper made his skills known by scoring 25 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3 against NC State.
Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, 18 of those points came in the first half against the Wolfpack, and Dick was held to just nine points in the semifinals on 3-of-8 shooting against Wisconsin’s top-10 defense.
Though his game showed promise, the Jayhawks need Dick to get back to the form he had in the first half against NC State to tie them up in the championship.
The most vulnerable area for an offense from Kansas, which ranks 27th statewide in adjusted offensive efficiency (111.4), is the post.
Self brought in two highly touted newcomers, Zuby Ejiofor and Ernest Udeh Jr., to fill the void left by David McCormack.
The transition to the collegiate game has taken some time for the freshman duo, as neither has been used in more than 18% of possessions this season.
Kansas’ small-ball lineup has been more than effective at dispersing opposing defense so far this season, but it has shown an Achilles’ heel in its aftermath on both offense and defense.
After Tennessee’s 78-66 home loss to Colorado, Rick Barnes demoted starting point guard Zeigler to a bankroll. Zeigler made way for Phillips, who got better with every start.
Phillips’ improvement culminated in a 25-point blast against USC on Thursday.
In addition to Phillip’s improved game in his starting role, Zeigler has provided a much-needed spark off the bench in each of Tennessee’s three wins since losing to Colorado.
Tennessee HC Rick Barnes raves about Zakai Zeigler’s performance and reaction after being dropped from the starting lineup on Wednesday night. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/9gfLOxXP9i
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) November 17, 2022
That spark off the bench has resulted in Tennessee’s offense ranked 29th nationally in Adjusted Efficiency (111.1), right on par with the No. 3 Jayhawks.
Improved offensive flow for Tennessee is so crucial to a team that can keep up with anyone defensively.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Volunteers have choked, not allowing more than 66 points all season and keeping half their opponents to 50 points or fewer.
Volunteers’ defenses are bolstered by their ability to create chaos for enemy attacks. Tennessee ranks fifth nationally in revenue percentage and third in steal%.
These are two areas where the Jayhawks have been less than perfect on offense in Battle 4 Atlantis. NC State was able to force nine steals against the Jayhawks while Wisconsin added eight of their own.
These additional possessions will be crucial for the Volunteers in what is sure to be a hard-fought championship battle.
The second key story for Tennessee was the health of senior forward Josiah-Jordan James. At the time of writing, there is no update on James as he was listed as ‘daily’ by Barnes ahead of Thursday’s semifinals.
If James is able to compete against the Jayhawks, he could represent a huge discrepancy for a Kansas lineup that is already surpassed in height.
Regardless of its status, a mismatch that the volunteers will surely have the upper hand is low.
Plavsic will have a significant size advantage for most of Friday afternoon. Plavsic is already used on 21.1% of ball possessions (third player on the team), a number Barnes hopes to increase against a small-ball lineup in Kansas.
In a game that will be defined by defense and a lineup contrast, Tennessee is primed to exploit Kansas’ weakness at the post.
Kansas vs Tennessee Betting Tip
Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis Championship will feature two top 15 defenses in terms of adjusted efficiency.
Because of this defensive play, this matchup will depend on which team can maximize their advantage on offense.
Since adding Phillips to the starting lineup, Tennessee has found a boosted offensive identity that works well against an undersized Jayhawks unit.
Search for the Volunteers to uncover Kansas’ shortcomings in the post and create enough additional possessions to bring home the championship and end Kansas’ 6-game winning streak.