Lady Vols vs St. Louis in NCAA Tournament 2023: Our March Madness prediction is in

The March Madness bracket is in, and Lady Vols basketball is a hosting for the second straight year under Kellie Harper.

Tennessee (23-11) was rewarded with a No. 4 seed after playing the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country. The Lady Vols will face No. 13 seed St. Louis (17-17) in the first round Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

A win would match the Lady Vols with No. 5 Iowa State (22-9) or No. 12 Toledo (28-4) in the second round on Monday.

Here's what you need to know about Tennessee's NCAA first-round matchup:

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St. Louis shocked Atlantic 10 with tournament title

St. Louis earned an automatic bid with its 91-85 overtime win over UMass – which Tennessee beat in November 74-65.

The Billikens challenged themselves in nonconference play, losing to Missouri State, Baylor and Missouri. They went 10-6 in conference play, finishing tied for third. UMass and Rhode Island – who were regular-season co-champions – were favorites to win the conference and tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

St. Louis comes into the NCAA Tournament with wins over St. Joseph's and Rhode Island en route to its Atlantic 10 Tournament title and avenging regular-season losses.

Saint Louis' Kyla McMakin (00) dribbles the ball past Massachusetts' Sydney Taylor (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball championship game in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)
Saint Louis' Kyla McMakin (00) dribbles the ball past Massachusetts' Sydney Taylor (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball championship game in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)

St. Louis offense favors 3-pointers

The Billikens take 19.3 shots from behind the arc per game.

Leading scorer Kyla McMakin has taken 36.9% of their 3-pointers, going 62-for-242. The senior guard averages 17.4 points on 31.6% shooting from the field. McMakin scored 27 points in the tournament championship.

St. Louis has a strong post presence with 6-foot-5 Brooke Flowers, who adds 12 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Flowers is a force on defense, tallying 128 blocks her senior season and recoding 15 double-doubles. The Billikens have two high-level playmakers on the roster as well. Senior guard Julia Martinez leads the team with 159 assists and Kennedy Calhoun has 133.

Tennessee forward Jillian Hollingshead (53) and South Carolina guard Brea Beal (12) reach for the rebound during a NCAA college basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, February 23, 2023.
Tennessee forward Jillian Hollingshead (53) and South Carolina guard Brea Beal (12) reach for the rebound during a NCAA college basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

Tennessee will look to dominate boards, force turnovers

St. Louis is a good rebounding team, averaging 40.3 this season, but it only outrebounds opponents by 0.9 rebounds.

Tennessee averages 42.7 rebounds, but it outrebounds opponents by an average of 9.8 boards. The Lady Vols have size on their side, and they should dominate the glass in this matchup.

St. Louis is a high-turnover team, averaging 17.3. But it also forces an average of 17.1 and scores an average of 17.4 off them. Tennessee will have to be disciplined in not letting St. Louis stick around because of turnovers and instead use it to its advantage.

Score prediction

Tennessee 82, St. Louis 65: No one except South Carolina and LSU has been able to hold back the Tennessee offense in the last eight games, and don't expect St. Louis to do it. The Lady Vols will start March Madness with a dominant win at home.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: March Madness prediction: Lady Vols vs. St. Louis in NCAA Tournament