KNOXVILLE — Coming off its worst loss of the season, the Tennessee men's basketball team was slotted as the No. 13 overall seed in the NCAA tournament selection committee's preview bracket released Sunday.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Volunteers (18-6, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) were the top No. 4 seed in the preview bracket, ahead of Ohio State, Arizona and Oklahoma.
This is the second year the selection committee has released a preview bracket forecasting the tournament's top 16 teams with a few weeks to go before Selection Sunday, which is March 11 this year. Fifteen of the 16 teams included in last season's projection went on to secure top-four seeds.
Before losing 78-50 at Alabama on Saturday, Tennessee was projected as a No. 3 seed by both ESPN and NBC Sports.
Entering Saturday, ESPN also suggested Tennessee had the best chance of any team in the country — 37 percent — of landing the fourth No. 1 seed. Those chances took a hit when the Crimson Tide (16-9, 7-5) inflicted a beating on the Vols, who had won five straight games.
The selection committee's preview bracket put Tennessee in the South Regional, which will hold its semifinals and final in Atlanta during the second weekend of the tournament. The preview bracket's top seeds in that regional were Virginia, Cincinnati and Michigan State.
Tennessee hosts South Carolina (13-12, 4-8) on Tuesday and plays at Georgia (13-11, 4-8) on Saturday, with its remaining regular-season games at Florida, at Ole Miss, at Mississippi State and against Georgia in Knoxville. The SEC tournament starts March 7 in St. Louis.
Auburn was the only other SEC team included in the selection committee's bracket preview. The Tigers were the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional.
WHAT COULD BE
If the NCAA tournament started today, here's what the selection committee's top 16 seeds would look like, with regional designation and seed in parentheses
1. Virginia, South (1)
2. Villanova, East (1)
3. Xavier, Midwest (1)
4. Purdue, West (1)
5. Auburn, Midwest (2)
6. Kansas, West (2)
7. Duke, East (2)
8. Cincinnati, South (2)
9. Clemson, Midwest (3)
10. Texas Tech, East (3)
11. Michigan State, South (3)
12. North Carolina, West (3)
13. Tennessee, South (4)
14. Ohio State, East (4)
15. Arizona, West (4)
16. Oklahoma, Midwest (4)
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.
This story was updated Feb. 11, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.