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March 16, 2014

Vols make the field, but in play-in game

Tennessee (21-12) grabbed a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face Iowa (20-11, 9-9 in the Big 10) on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio in a play-in game. The winner will move on to Raleigh, N.C. to face No. 6 seed UMASS on Friday.

The bid sends the Vols back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2011 after a season that including its share of ups and downs.

As late as Feb. 22, after what looked like a crushing loss at Texas A&M, the Vols chances of ending their season as part of the field of 68 looked tenuous at best. That loss, which gave the Aggies a season sweep, dropped Tennessee to 16-11 and just 11-7 in the SEC. It also represented a pair of damaging losses to a team ranked outside the RPI Top-100 as the Aggies finished the year at No. 145 in the index.

The Vols rallied though and won four straight to close the regular season, the last three in commanding fashion, culminating in a 72-45 beat-down of fellow bubble-team Missouri in the season finale.

Tennessee added a victory over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta that probably didn't hurt its chances. The Vols also avoided a dangerous Arkansas squad in the bracket after the Gamecocks pulled a second-round upset.

In Iowa the Vols catch a team that flashed some major league ability this season but stumbled down the stretch to finish the season in ugly fashion.

Head coach Fran McCaffery's team finished sixth in a loaded Big Ten, but lost seven of their final eight games, closing out that stretch as an upset victim to Northwestern in the opening round of the Big 10 Tournament. Their only win in that streak was over lowly Purdue.

The first thing that jumps out about the Hawkeyes is their penchant for playing fast and getting up as many shots as possible. Iowa averages 82 points per game, a number that led that Big Ten and ranked No. 8 nationally.

Roy Devyn-Marble (6-6, 200), a versatile wing, leads the Hawkeyes in scoring with 17.4 ppg. Aaron White (6-9, 220) averages 13.0 ppg and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Iowa routinely plays nine to 10 players and will look to push the pace.

The Hawkeyes shot 883 free throws on the season, most in the Big Ten, making 73.3% from the line.

Tennessee NEWS


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