Tennessee surprised the basketball world this season when they went from being picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC to winning a share of the regular season conference title. The Vols would go on to make it to the SEC Tournament Final as well, and they earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Though they were bounced earlier than expected by Cinderella team Loyola-Chicago, the Vols put together one of their most surprising and successful seasons in program history.
Early expectations are already extremely high for the Vols for the upcoming season. Most preseason polls have Tennessee somewhere in the top 10, and one national analyst even believes the Vols should be a top five overall team to begin next season.
And now an early NCAA Tournament bracket prediction says the Vols will repeat their 2018 tournament seeding.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN released his very early bracketology predictions for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and he has the Vols repeating as a No. 3 seed next year. Lunardi has the Vols playing in the West region and taking on No. 14 Northern Kentucky in the first round. He has Tennessee playing in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the first round.
Unlike this past season, the Vols don’t have the opportunity to play the first round in-state. Nashville was a host city for the first two rounds of the 2018 tournament, but Tennessee was placed in Dallas for their first two games of the tournament despite their proximity to Nashville.
The 2019 tournament will have venues in Tulsa, Seattle (WA), Salt Lake City (UT), Columbus (OH), Hartford (CT), Des Moines (IA), Jacksonville (FL), and Columbia (SC) for the first two rounds.
Tennessee earned the program’s first ever three-seed in the NCAA Tournament when they were awarded that seed this year. The Vols have achieved better than a No. 3 seed only twice in school history. The 2006 and 2008 Vol squads both earned No. 2 seeds.
Lunardi has six other SEC schools besides Tennessee making it in to the 2019 tournament. He has Kentucky as a No. 2 seed, Auburn as a No. 3 seed, Florida as a No. 6 seed, Mississippi State as a No. 7 seed, LSU as a No. 8 seed, and Arkansas as a No. 9 seed. Texas A&M and Alabama are among the First Four Out.