BLOG: Vols still probable for the NCAA tournament, for now

BLOG: Vols still probable for the NCAA tournament, for now

February 23rd, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Blogsutugautc

Here are this week's statistics:

Resume in brief

RECORD: 16-10, 7-5 Southeastern Conference.

POLLS: Unranked.

RPI: No. 25 (out of 343 teams),



Great wins (top 25 RPI)

No. 21 Marquette (neutral site)

Good wins (26-75 RPI)

No. 45 Georgetown (neutral site)

No. 26 Siena (neutral site)

No. 44 South Carolina

No. 41 Florida

OK losses (top 75 RPI)

No. 33 Gonzaga (neutral site)

at No. 36 Temple

at No. 10 Kansas

No. 33 Gonzaga

No. 61 Kentucky

No. 8 Memphis

No. 34 LSU

at No. 65 Ole Miss

at No. 61 Kentucky

Bad losses (sub-75 RPI)

No. 87 Auburn

Terrible losses (sub-150 RPI)


Mediocre wins (sub-75 RPI)

No. 184 UTC

No. 153 UT-Martin

at No. 172 Middle Tennessee State

No. 204 UNC Asheville

No. 115 Belmont

No. 252 Louisiana-Lafayette

at No. 209 Georgia

at No. 97 Vanderbilt

at No. 127 Arkansas

No. 209 Georgia

No. 97 Vanderbilt

On the horizon

No. 84 Mississippi State

at No. 41 Florida

at No. 44 South Carolina

No. 129 Alabama

SEC tournament

Bracket projections

Joe Lunardi, - No. 9 seed, Midwest Regional

Andy Glockner, - No. 9 seed, South Regional

Frank Burlison, - No. 8 seed, East Regional

Jerry Palm, - No. 7 seed, West Regional (before loss at Kentucky)

KNOXVILLE - Well, that wasn't a very good week.

But it wasn't bad enough to keep the Tennessee men's basketball team out of the NCAA tournament, apparently.

Not yet, anyway.

The Volunteers dropped games at Ole Miss and Kentucky by double digits last week, and neither team is a Ratings Percentage Index giant.

UT has thrust itself closer to the bubble, making this week's "Bubble Watch" much more interesting from an objective person's point of view - but probably more frustrating for a coach, player or fan.

Most of the game's respected analysts still see the Vols in the 65-team field at this point, citing their overall tournament-worthy body of work. UT still has four games left before the Southeastern Conference tournament, though, and a nose dive could easily leave the Vols NIT-bound.

Wednesday's home game against Mississippi State is much more important that most would have predicted weeks ago. The Bulldogs (17-10, 7-5) and Vols (16-10, 7-5) have identical conference records and, while UT has a much better out-of-conference resume, an MSU victory in Knoxville so late in the season could sway the selection committee.

Making Wednesday even more interesting is the Bulldogs' seemingly solid matchup with UT. Mississippi State leads the nation in blocked shots and makes more 3-pointers than any team in the SEC. The Vols, meanwhile, don't defend or shoot from the perimeter particularly well, and they often rely heavily on inside-the-paint points.

I still think a 2-2 record in these last four games and a second-day appearance at the SEC tournament (via bye or opening-round victory) will get UT in the NCAA tournament, but not without a nervous Sunday selection party. I think the Vols are the only SEC team with an out-of-conference resume good enough to get in with a 9-7 league mark.

Obviously, 10-6 would leave them feeling very confident, considering a 3-1 finish would mean they'd won at Florida or South Carolina (or both). But how many people who watch this team feel confident in this team's chances to win in Gainesville or Columbia?

At the very least, UT would do well to win its final two home games and avoid embarrassment on the road.

Read Tuesday's Times Free Press for more UT coverage.