NCAA Basketball Tennessee Volunteers

Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Tennessee Will Make NCAA Tournament

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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Tennessee Will Make The Tournament

Bubble Watch Tennessee Basketball NCAA Tournament
Randy Sartin - USATODAY Sports

With the college basketball regular season coming to a screeching halt this weekend, teams on the proverbial bubble are running out of time to solidify spots in the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday is a little more than a week away, and things are getting tense for the Tennessee Volunteers, who are one of those teams that seem to be constantly moving back and forth between teams projected to be in the tournament and teams that may just barely miss out on an invitation.

It’s certainly been a roller coaster of a season for Cuonzo Martin and the Vols. They haven’t exactly separated themselves from the pack in a painfully mediocre SEC that doesn’t have any elite teams this season outside of the top-ranked Florida Gators. It’s a conference that could end up with only two teams in the tournament but still has a chance to put a handful of its members into The Big Dance. But that’s only if Tennessee can earn a bid after all the ups and downs they’ve gone through this season.

There have definitely been some upsetting and puzzling moments for the Volunteers this season. But if nothing else, Tennessee has proven that they can be competitive with just about every team on the schedule. That being said, the Vols are only as good as their record and resume say they are, and right now their record and resume say they’re a bubble team. But being optimistic, here are five reasons why Tennessee will end up making the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

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5. They'll Play Deep Into The SEC Tournament

They'll Play Deep Into The SEC Tournament
Don McPeak - USATODAY Sports

Playing in a weak conference will give the Volunteers a chance to play deep into the SEC Tournament, giving them more exposure, which can’t hurt. Tennessee should be able to reach the SEC semifinals which will give them a chance to add a win over Florida or Kentucky to their resume and put them on television the day before Selection Sunday. That certainly bodes well for their chances.

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4. Wins Over Georgia and Arkansas

Wins Over Georgia and Arkansas
Randy Sartin - USATODAY Sports

Beating Georgia and Arkansas isn’t necessarily impressive, but those are the next best teams in the SEC behind Florida and Kentucky. With Tennessee beating those teams, there’s a strong argument that the Vols are the third best team in the SEC and be the third SEC team the committee puts into the field of 68.

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3. Late Season Surge

Late Season Surge
Dak Dillon - USATODAY Sports

The selection committee will certainly look favorably at the Vols for winning four of their last five games heading down the stretch. Tennessee doesn’t have a signature win over that span, but those wins have been by convincing margins which means the Vols are at their best at the right time of year.

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2. Virginia's ACC Dominance

Virginia's ACC Dominance
Geoff Burke - USATODAY Sports

The low point of Virginia’s season was a 35-point thrashing at the hands of Tennessee, but since then the Cavs have been arguably the best team in the country and run away with the ACC regular season championship, much to the delight of the Vols. Considering Virginia’s success, Tennessee’s win over them is one of the most impressive wins any bubble team has on its resume, and that should push the Volunteers into the NCAA Tournament.

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1. Jordan McRae

Jordan McRae
Randy Sartin - USATODAY Sports

If the Vols are dancing this year, it’ll be because of McRae. He’s averaged 19 points per game and done some of his best work against the best competition. Tennessee is far from a one-man team with Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon also playing big roles in the team’s success this year, but if they get to the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have McRae to thank.