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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sixth-ranked and South region second-seeded Tennessee starts its NCAA men's basketball tournament run Friday with a game against 15th-seeded Colgate at 2:45 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. The Volunteers (29-5) are coming off a runner-up finish in the Southeastern Conference tournament, while the Raiders (24-10) won the Patriot League tournament title and the league's automatic bid.

Here are three keys for the Vols entering the game:

1. Defend Colgate's guards: Sophomore Jordan Burns and freshman Tucker Richardson make the Raiders go, and when they're not scoring, they help create opportunities for 6-foot-10 forward Rapolas Ivanauskas and 3-point threat Will Rayman, among others. The two guards turn the ball over a combined five times per game on average, which will put an emphasis on Tennessee's guards — namely Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner — to pressure Burns and Richardson and potentially force some mistakes, which would help the Vols get some easy baskets in transition.

2. Throw the first punch: There have been only eight No. 15 seeds that have ever defeated a No. 2, but considering Maryland-Baltimore County became the first-ever 16 to defeat a 1 when it topped Virginia last year, the Vols don't want to do anything that could give the Raiders some early momentum. That's why it's imperative Tennessee's defense is intense and its offense efficient from the start. The combination of the two should be enough to get the Vols jump-started.

3. Handle the atmosphere: With most of the players back from the Tennessee team that went through the NCAA tournament a year ago, the Vols understand the process. They understand the atmosphere, and they haven't forgotten about last season's last-second upset loss to Loyola-Chicago, so nothing should come as a shock to them. It's one of the many reasons why being a veteran team will benefit the Vols — they shouldn't get too high or too low and can stay in the moment.

VOLS HOOPS

NO. 6 TENNESSEE VS. COLGATE

Nationwide Arena; Columbus, Ohio

2:45 p.m. Friday

TV/radio: CBS/102.3 FM


TENNESSEE (29-5)

Projected starters: Ht. Pts.

G Jordan Bone 6-3 13.5

G Lamonte Turner 6-2 10.6

G Admiral Schofield 6-6 16.2

F Grant Williams 6-7 19.0

F Kyle Alexander 6-11 7.4

Key reserves:

G Jordan Bowden 6-5 10.5

F John Fulkerson 6-9 3.2


COLGATE (24-10)

Projected starters: Ht. Pts.

G Jordan Burns 6-0 15.8

G Tucker Richardson 6-5 8.0

F Will Rayman 6-8 13.1

F Rapolas Ivanauskas 6-10 16.4

C Dana Batt 6-9 7.0

Key reserves:

G Jack Ferguson 6-3 7.2

F Malcolm Regisford 6-8 6.6

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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