Bubble Watch: Tennessee Basketball Solidifies Spot In NCAA Tournament

By Matthew Sturgeon
Tennessee Volunteers, South Carolina Gamecocks
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It was probably true yesterday, but it is definitely true today. The Tennessee Volunteers are going to be in the upcoming NCAA tournament. 

The Vols defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks this afternoon by a score of 59-44 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. The win marks the team’s fifth consecutive, and Cuonzo Martin‘s squad appears to really be hitting their stride as the Big Dance nears.

Jarnell Stokes led the way for Tennessee with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Jordan McCrae was also a key contributor in the victory, as he tallied 14 points to go along with three assists. In the losing effort, Frank Martin‘s Gamecocks shot a dismal 27 percent from the field, as they went just 16-of-59.

During this five game winning streak, the Volunteers have beaten their opponents by an average of 23 points. Yes, the SEC is very down this season, but still, Tennessee has been extremely impressive of late.

With outstanding and tough players like McCrae and Stokes, this team is poised to be a very dangerous out in the NCAA tourney. Add in Jeronne Maymon and they became even tougher. And while the Vols  have spent much of the season hovering around the bubble, after today, they can finally relax. The question is no longer if they’ll dance, but when, and where.

The 15 point beat down of the Gamecocks sets up an excellent semifinal matchup tomorrow with both the SEC’s top team, as well as the nation’s top ranked team, the Florida Gators. That should be one heck of a contest.

Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27

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