Even before tipping their regular-season finale against South Carolina on Saturday afternoon, Tennessee knew its SEC tournament positioning for next week’s event in Nashville. A 60-49 loss to the Gamecocks on Senior Day by the Vols made the opponent – Vanderbilt – official.
Wins by Kentucky (over Florida) and Alabama (over Texas A&M) assured that the Vols will get one bye and be the No. 10 seed that will play Thursday night against the No. 7 seed at 7 p.m. ET at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Tennessee’s loss to the Gamecocks secured the No. 7 seed for Vanderbilt, regardless of its outcome at Ole Miss later on Saturday night (update: Vandy did beat Ole Miss).
If Tennessee were to beat Vandy in the first game in the SEC tournament, the Vols will draw No. 2 seed Arkansas on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET. Though the No. 10 spot is the worst seed the Vols could’ve received coming into the day, it does put them on the opposite side of the bracket as No. 1 seed and undefeated Kentucky.
The Vols pulled off an improbable 76-73 overtime come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym in Nashville on Feb. 11 in a game the Vols trailed by five points with 15 seconds remaining. Vanderbilt got revenge a couple weeks later, riding a hot second-half shooting performance to pull off a 73-65 win over Tennessee.
The in-state rivalry has heated up a touch after some comments by Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin before the second matchup. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings also made some national headlines for an incident that happened following the game.
But despite some of that drama, the Commodores might be playing like the second-best team in the SEC right now, behind Kentucky, after putting together an 8-2 record during the months of February and March leading up to the SEC tournament.
Here are Tennessee’s outcomes against possible opponents in the first two rounds:
2/11: 76-73 overtime win in Nashville
2/26: 73-65 loss in Knoxville
1/13: 74-69 win in Knoxville
1/27: 69-64 loss in Fayetteville
Full SEC tournament bracket: