NCAA Basketball Tennessee Volunteers

SEC Basketball: Tennessee Takes a Step Back With Loss to Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers lost to the No. 8 Wichita State Shockers 70-61 despite a huge performance from senior Jordan McRae. He led all scorers with 26 points, but it wasn’t enough because other players didn’t step in. If Jeronne Maymon, Antonio Barton and Jarnell Stokes don’t become consistent scorers soon, Tennessee won’t make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament – especially with SEC play coming up.

The SEC is one of the most all around talented leagues in the country once again this season. The LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Ole Miss Rebels, Missouri Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Florida Gators, Mississippi State Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks all have the type of early-season records that allow for a possible NCAA Tournament berth. Florida and Missouri lead the pack through non-conference play in both wins and the eye test, but there doesn’t look like there is a definite No. 1 team in the SEC.

The number of talented SEC teams should worry Tennessee because underachieving teams like LSU, Alabama and Kentucky will only get better as the season goes along. If the Volunteers want to finally go to a much deserved NCAA Tournament under Cuonzo Martin, they will have to win multiple tough road games in the SEC, and I’m not sure this team can do that at this point.

The Volunteers are far from out of the 2014 NCAA Tournament talk, but a win over a top team like Wichita State, who will probably now go undefeated, would have made their tournament dreams much closer of a reality.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS or add him to your network on Google