So far this college basketball season, the Tennessee Volunteers have been a tale of two teams. On one hand, they get blown out by the UTEP Miners 78-70, and, on the other, they crush the very talented Xavier Musketeers 64-49. Cuonzo Martin’s squad has either excelled from range or excelled from down low so far this season; they haven’t had a game where they played their best offensively against a good team.
Tennessee has a chance to change all that against the No. 12 Wichita State Shockers. Wichita State has won all nine games of the 2013-14 college basketball season and, if they can get past the Volunteers, have a definite chance of going undefeated. If they can go undefeated, the Shockers will have a major argument for a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. However, Tennessee has a legitimate chance to pull off the upset, just like they did last season.
In order to win this game, Tennessee must out-rebound the Shockers. Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon are averaging nearly 10 rebounds a game, but next to those two players, no one else really rebounds. Simply put, Wichita State out-hustles their opposition and ends up with more opportunities for second chance points.
Jordan McCrae must have a huge game for the Volunteers. Both teams are extremely tough physically, and it’s going to be rough for Stokes and Maymon to score down low. McCrae has to be on or Tennessee will not be able to outscore the talented Wichita State offense. Expect the key to this game to be whether or not McCrae can start scoring early, because he has shown a tendency to not show up until late in games.
Tennessee will have to play well on both defense and offense for the entire game, because there isn’t a team in college basketball better than Wichita State at scrapping out a win. If the Volunteers can pull off the upset against the No. 12 team in the nation, expect things to finally come together for the Vols, and Tennessee to become one of the dark horses for both the SEC and finally make the NCAA Tournament under Martin.