The Tennessee Volunteers and the Arkansas Razorbacks are two extremely similar teams when it comes to a 2014 NCAA Tournament resume. Both have good wins against mid-range NCAA tournament eligible teams, and a couple losses to less than average college basketball teams. However, Arkansas was coming off a marquee win over the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats that put them a step ahead of the Volunteers in their efforts to secure a spot in the Big Dance.
At least they were, until the Razorbacks came into Knoxville and lost to the Volunteers, 81-74. Coty Clarke’s 16 points and nine rebounds weren’t enough to overcome 34 by Tennessee star Jordan McRae and 17 points by Jeronne Maymon. McRae saved the Volunteers from losing a game that would have crushed their 2014 NCAA Tournament chances. His 34 points were able to overcome perhaps the worst game Jarnell Stokes has had all season; he had seven points and six rebounds.
If Tennessee is to make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, they will have to continue to come out on top in games against tournament hopeful teams like Arkansas. They don’t have any marquee wins, and their only two remaining chances are against the nearly unbeatable No. 7 Florida Gators. Wins against remaining opponents like the Missouri Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels and the Texas A&M Aggies will be crucial when it comes to selection day.
The Volunteers are in the 2014 NCAA Tournament as of now. However, McRae must continue to play with this much confidence, because one loss to a below average SEC team could see Tennessee on the outside looking into the 2014 NCAA Tournament once again.