Vols Have Best Chance of Making NCAA Tournament in SEC

    by -

    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    The Vols’ men’s basketball team has been putting together a solid season thus far. Tennessee has been ranked inside the top 25 for the majority of the season, and they haven’t fallen out of the rankings since they’ve entered. They also have one of the better NCAA Tournament resumes to date.

    And according to ESPN, the Vols stand the best chance of making the NCAA Tournament of any team in the SEC.

    ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Vols a 99.9 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament. That’s the best in the SEC, and only Bruce Pearl’s Auburn squad and the Florida Gators are nearly guaranteed locks like the Vols.

    The BPI is “is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward” according to ESPN’s website. Here’s the rest of the explanation:

    “BPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Strength of Record (SOR) is a measure of team accomplishment based on how difficult a team’s W-L record is to achieve. Game predictions account for opponent strength, pace of play, site, travel distance, day’s rest and altitude, and are used to simulate the season 10,000 times to produce season projections.”

    Tennessee is currently ranked the highest among all SEC schools in ESPN’s BPI with a ranking of 18th. Auburn comes in at No. 22 and Florida is right behind them at No. 23.

    Interestingly enough, the Vols have played three teams inside of the top 10 of ESPN’s BPI. Villanova (1st), Purdue (2nd), and North Carolina (9th) all played Tennessee earlier this season. The Vols toppled Purdue, but they lost close contests to Villanova and North Carolina.

    The BPI also has the Vols’ strength of schedule as the second-best in all of college basketball. According to the BPI, only Texas has had a harder schedule this season.

    The Vols are currently 13-5 overall and 4-3 in SEC play. They’re ranked No. 22 in the latest AP Poll, and they’re ranked 12th in the RPI. According to TeamRankings.com, the Vols have a 93 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament and project to be a five seed in the Big Dance.

    If the Vols can continue their strong play and make the NCAA Tournament, it would mark the first time since 2014 that the Vols have earned a berth in the tournament. That season was Cuonzo Martin’s last season as Tennessee’s head coach, and that Vol squad made a run to the Elite Eight.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.