March 8, 2013
Huge home finale for Vols
The finale of college basketball's regular season can sometimes seem like nothing more than a warm-up act for the best postseason in all of sports. For Tennessee though, today's match-up with Missouri is a pivotal contest that could have a huge bearing on exactly what kind of postseason awaits them.
In the simplest terms, a win would vastly improve--some might say guarantee-- theVols chances of grabbing a spot in the NCAA field of 68. A loss, while not a total death blow, would likely put Tennessee in a position where they would have to make some serious noise in the SEC Tournament--if not win the whole thing--to secure that coveted bid.
"I don't know where we stand right now, all I know is that we need to keep winning basketball games," Jordan McRae said on the topic of the NCAA, a matter the players have become well versed in discussing in the last two weeks.
Tennessee (19-11, 10-7) has played its way firmly onto the proverbial bubble of the NCAA Tournament in the last month. Missouri (22-8, 11-6) is firmly in the NCAA field already and has been viewed as the second-best team in the league behind Florida for most of the season, certainly since Kentucky lost Nerlens Noel.
Ranked No. 30 in the RPI Missouri presents Tennessee with a fantastic opportunity to pad it's NCAA credentials. The biggest knock on the Vols is a lack of quality wins. Beating No. 6 Florida last week boosted the Vols' profile significantly, but that's the only win Tennessee holds over a team currently ranked in the top-30 of the RPI. The next best victory is over No. 36 Wichita State.
Cuonzo Martin isn't interested in crunching the numbers to try and figure out where his team fits in the NCAA picture. He's keeping it simple.
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