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Vols Move Up to No. 1 Seed in Updated Bracketology

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

March Madness is still nearly three months away, but it’s about that time where NCAA Tournament forecasters start to compile their early data for the upcoming Big Dance. And according to the most recent updated “bracketology,” the Vols are in line for a No. 1 seed in the tournament this year.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN updated his bracket predictions on Thursday, and with that update, Tennessee moved up to a one-seed in his projections. Lunardi has the Vols as one of the four No. 1 seeds in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and he has them as the top seed in the West region. He has Gonzaga, who the Vols played earlier this month, as the No. 2 seed in that region. North Carolina is the three-seed, and Ohio State is the four-seed. Lunardi also has Kentucky as the six-seed in that region.

Tennessee has never earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve twice received a two-seed in the tournament, and last year marked the first time the Vols earned a No. 3 seed in the tournament. But the men’s basketball program at Tennessee has never been one of the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Right now, the Vols are off to one of their best starts in school history. Tennessee’s 10-1 record is their best start to a season since the 2007-08 team began the year 16-1. That team would end up setting a school record with 31 wins and was briefly ranked No. 1 in the country. They would also earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, though they only made it to the Sweet Sixteen and ultimately got blown out by Louisville in that round.

The Vols are currently No. 3 in the AP Poll and finished a mere one point behind Michigan for the No. 2 spot in the most recent poll on Monday. Tennessee has spent five of the eight weeks this season ranked inside the top five of the poll

Tennessee has just one more game before the end of 2018. They will host Tennessee Tech this Saturday, December 29th at 1:00 PM Eastern. After that, the Vols will begin SEC play when they host Georgia on January 5th.

Lunardi currently has six SEC teams in his NCAA Tournament bracket projections. Tennessee (1), Auburn (3), Mississippi State (5), Kentucky (6), LSU (9), and Florida (11) are the SEC teams currently in the tournament according to Lunardi. He has the Gators as one of the last four teams in, and they would be playing in one of the play-in games as an 11-seed.

If the Vols make it to the NCAA Tournament this season, it will mark the first time in nearly a decade that Tennessee has made the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons. The Vols made the tournament five-straight years from 2006-11 and won eight games in the tournament during that stretch, including the program’s only Elite Eight appearance in school history. Last year, Tennessee was a three-seed and won their first game but lost to Loyola-Chicago in the second round.

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