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Tennessee Basketball: An early scouting report of the Vols’ Sweet 16 opponent, the Creighton Bluejays

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Tennessee Basketball will have one clear advantage over Creighton in the Sweet 16 – if the Vols choose to use it.

While the Vols can go as many as 10 players deep, the Bluejays rely on their starting five. In fact, Creighton’s bench minutes ranked a lowly 355th in the nation, per KenPom. Tennessee clearly has more players but sometimes chooses to rely on less than they have available.

Creighton loves three-pointers like a blue jay loves sunflower seeds, ranking eighth in the country in 3-point attempts while hitting 36.5-percent from the arc.

The Bluejays try to force opposing teams to pass on 3-point shots and hope that the opposition will try to drive to the basket, where they’ll be met by 7-foot-1, 270-pound Ryan Kalkbrenner, who has been named the Big East’s defensive player of the year three times. Hitting mid-range shots could be key for Tennessee Basketball.

Kalkbrenner isn’t just a defender for the Bluejays. He also averages 17 points per game and is one of four players to average double digits for Creighton, along with Baylor Scheierman, who leads the Bluejays in points per game with 18.3, Trey Alexander, who averages 17.7 points per game and leads the Bluejays with 4.7 assists per game. Steven Ashworth averages 11 points per game.

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Conclusion: Tennessee Basketball should be much more athletic than Creighton, although Kalkbrenner will provide a big challenge – literally. There just aren’t that many players as big as him in college basketball. 

Creighton’s dedication to shooting three pointers should play in the Vols’ hands as Tennessee has very good perimeter defenders.

However, the Vols could be in trouble if they shoot as poorly as they did in their Round of 32 matchup with the Texas Longhorns. Rick Barnes can go 10-deep but has largely run just eight players this year. He may want to consider using more to maximize UT’s depth advantage in this one.

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