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NCAA Basketball March MadnessTennessee Volunteers

2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why Tennessee Will Be 2014’s Cinderella Story

2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why Tennessee Will be 2014’s Cinderella Story

Cuonzo Martin Tennessee Basketball
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers started the 2014 NCAA Tournament as the No. 11 seed, but they have dominated opponents en route to the Sweet 16. After a year of strife and uncertainty, the Vols are within reach of the Final Four. Here are five reasons that Tennessee is 2014's Cinderella Team.

5. Early Season Losses

Jordan McRae Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

5. Early Season Losses

Jordan McRae Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the season, Tennessee lost games to the UTEP Miners and Xavier Musketeers. Since then, two losses to Texas A&M on buzzer-beaters have hurt them, but that’s not going to keep them down.

4. SEC Criticisms

Jordan McRae
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

4. SEC Criticisms

Jordan McRae
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

One of the reasons a team as statistically talented as Tennessee became a No. 11 seed is because of conference bias. All season long, all we’ve heard from analysts was that the SEC was terrible. Three teams in the Sweet 16 and the only undefeated conference left in the Big Dance doesn’t look like terrible.

3. Cuonzo Martin’s Hot Seat

Antonio Barton Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

3. Cuonzo Martin’s Hot Seat

Antonio barton Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Vol fanbase is notoriously narrow-minded when it comes to losing, and despite Martin having finished in the top five of the SEC every year he was with the team, many were calling for his head. Now, with a trip to the Sweet 16, there’s no way he gets fired.

2. Veterans

Jeronne Maymon Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Veterans

Jeronne Maymon Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes, Josh Richardson and Jeronne Maymon are all veteran college basketball players who deserve a deep run in March Madness.

1. Defense

Josh Richardson Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

1. Defense

Josh Richardson Tennessee
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Defense wins championships, and there may not be a better defense in all of college basketball than Tennessee.