The Tennessee Volunteers were the team many expected to sneak into the NCAA tournament despite losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC tournament. The Volunteers had nine wins over the top 100 RPI teams and were 9-3 in the final twelve games of the season with wins over Florida, Missouri and Kentucky in that stretch. The two losses to Georgia are what really killed Tennessee, so not making the NCAA tournament was not a surprise. However, getting a two seed in the NIT was.
The top four seeds for the tournament are all good teams, but Tennessee deserved a top seed over Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern Miss. Kentucky had no good non-conference wins and the same number of good wins as the Volunteers. The Wildcats also lost by 30 just eight games ago. Alabama, although 2-1 against Tennessee for the season, had bad losses against Tulane, Auburn, and Mercer. Southern Miss played in an incredibly week conference and lost any time they played a decent team all season long.
Tennessee got snubbed for the NCAA tournament and then received an unfair seed in the NIT tournament. Expect Jarnell Stokes, Trae Golden, and Jordan McRae to put up huge numbers and have great games, because it has now been two years in a row for these players that Tennessee has barely missed the tournament. The Volunteers have a fairly easy bracket and should meet Kentucky in the Final Four of the NIT for a huge SEC battle. The Volunteers are the best overall team, and they should win the whole thing despite their unlucky seeding.