Basketball Vols Keeps Improving in NCAA Tournament Projections

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    Tennessee’s men’s basketball team has recovered after a rough start in SEC play and have now won three straight games against conference foes. The Vols have also moved up to No. 21 in the country in the AP Poll, and they’re currently 12-4 overall, their best start to a season since they went 14-2 in the first 16 games of the 2009-10 season.

    That season saw Tennessee make it into the NCAA Tournament as a six seed and make it to the program’s only Elite Eight appearance. Will this year’s Vol squad be able to replicate that success?

    According to several NCAA basketball analysts, the Vols stand a good chance of getting a better overall seed than that 2010 squad did. Four major “bracketology” projections have the Vols earning either a five or a four seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

    Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the Vols have made it to the Big Dance 12 times. They’ve earned a five seed or better five of those times, the last such instance coming in 2008 when they were a two seed.

    Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Vols as a five seed in the Midwest bracket where he projects they will play South Dakota State as a 13-seed. Chris Dobbertean of SB Nation also has the Vols as a five seed in the Midwest bracket, and he has them playing MTSU in the first round.

    Both Jerry Palm of CBS Sports and Patrick Stevens of The Washington Post have the Vols as a four seed in the tournament. Palm predicts the Vols will be in the Midwest bracket and will play Vermont. Stevens believes the Vols will also be in the Midwest bracket and will go up against William & Mary.

    The Vols were picked by the SEC media at media days before the start of this season to finish 13th in the conference. Right now, the Vols are in prime position to not only finish in the top half of the SEC, but also to earn one of their best seedings in the NCAA Tournament in program history.

    Here’s a quick look at the Vols’ current NCAA Tournament resume:

    RPI: 13
    ESPN BPI: 19
    Strength of Schedule: 4
    Record vs. RPI 1-25: 2-4
    Record vs RPI 26-50: 1-0
    Record vs RPI 51-100: 3-0
    Ken Pomeroy Ranking: 14
    % Chance to Make NCAAT (TeamRankings.com): 93%
    Average Seed (TeamRankings.com): 5.8