The Tennessee Volunteers pulled an upset against the Alabama Crimson Tide at home on Saturday. It may not have looked like an upset, but it sure felt like one. Tennessee has struggled since the beginning of SEC play to finish out games. In the games against Ole Miss (the second time), Kentucky, and Alabama (the first time), the Volunteers led with less than five minutes left, only to be outplayed in the final minutes. The win against Alabama showed Tennessee’s toughness and will boost the Volunteers’ confidence.
The Volunteers are now 10-8. Any other team would be thinking NIT at this point rather than NCAA, but wins against Xavier and UMass, as well as being one of the only two losses that No. 20 Wichita State has on the season, gives the Volunteers a rather impressive resume.
However, the next four games for Tennessee are crucial, because South Carolina and Arkansas are both good teams that would seriously boost the Volunteers’ tournament resume, and losses to either Vanderbilt or Georgia would mean the end to Tennessee’s tournament hopes. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, both Georgia and Vanderbilt have continued to improve as the season has gone on. A month ago, these games would have been seen as easy victories, but after both teams have played hard against exponentially stronger opposition, they are no longer that.
Tennessee must win at least three of the next four or the tournament is out of their grasp – but recent play from Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae prove that the Volunteers are not going to give up until Tennessee is dancing in March.