Bubble Watch: Tennessee Needs Wins To Make Field of 68
The Tennessee Volunteers looked at best unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament back in early February, but they have won seven of their last eight games to push their record to 18-11 on the season (10-7 in the SEC) and put themselves on the tournament bubble heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against Missouri (22-8, 11-6 in-conference). It’s a crucial game for both teams, as the Tigers also find themselves in need of a win heading into postseason play.
Here’s a look at Tennessee’s tournament resume.
Simply put, two losses to Georgia is enough to put the Volunteers firmly in the NIT at this point. But their win over Florida came on Feb. 26 and qualifies as a “resume win” that should be fresh on the tournament committee’s mind come selection Sunday. A victory over Missouri on Saturday would obviously bolster their chances of making the NCAA Tournament, along with giving them a much-needed ninth win over teams rated in the top 100 in RPI. The game being at home should be to the Volunteers’ advantage, since they are 14-4 this season with just two losses in conference play (Georgia, Ole Miss) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
A loss on Saturday would all but end any hopes Tennessee has to make the NCAA Tournament, barring earning an automatic bid by winning the SEC Tournament. A win on Saturday by itself is unlikely to be enough to lock them into an at-large bid, with or without help elsewhere, and a short run in the conference tournament could be very damaging to their chances. Right now, I just don’t think the Volunteers will win enough games to make a case to be in the field of 68.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.