The pressure is on for the Tennessee Volunteers as they fell to the No. 8 Wichita State Shockers 70-61. Their third loss of the year puts them well behind other potential 2014 NCAA Tournament teams and means that they must start to rack up wins against good non-conference teams now.
However, Tennessee shouldn’t panic. The Volunteers still have plenty of opportunities to prove to the NCAA selection committee that they deserve a spot in the 2014 NCAA Tournament through both non-conference and SEC play. Their final non-conference game against the Virginia Cavaliers will be huge for the Vols.
The problem for Tennessee is that sometimes they look like one of the top 15 teams in the country, and sometimes they look like they aren’t even in the top 100. Common mistakes such as poor shot selection and inability to make free throws are what led to losses against the UTEP Miners and Xavier Musketeers, but then they turn around and crush the same Xavier team a few weeks later.
The good news for the Vols is that Jordan McRae looks like he’s starting to get his scoring groove back. He scored 26 against the tough Wichita State defense and, if Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon can make better shooting decisions, will take this team to the tournament.
Next up for the Volunteers is the 7-2 North Carolina State Wolf Pack that lost to the North Carolina Central Eagles from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference already this season. If Tennessee loses to North Carolina State, then Cuonzo Martin’s team should begin to panic, because this game should be one in which the Volunteers are the clear favorite.