For only the second time in school history, Tennessee’s men’s basketball team is sitting atop the college basketball world.
The updated AP Poll came out on Monday afternoon, and the Vols slid up to the No. 1 spot in the poll for the first time since 2008 and only the second time in school history.
Tennessee earned the top spot in the poll thanks to taking care of business and all the other teams around them losing. Previous No. 1 Duke lost at home in overtime to Syracuse on Monday of last week, No. 2 Michigan lost on the road to Wisconsin by 10, and No. 4 Virginia lost to Duke on the road in a bounce-back effort by the Blue Devils.
The Vols were the only team in the top four of last week’s AP Poll not to lose at least once last week. Tennessee defeated Arkansas 106-87 during their mid-week game and ended up surviving a comeback effort against Alabama on Saturday, escaping an ugly second half to win 71-68. Tennessee moved up two spots from their No. 3 ranking to earn the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll.
Tennessee earned 48 of the 64 first-place votes in the poll. Duke earned 11 first-place votes, No. 3 Virginia got three, and No. 6 Michigan State earned two.
Right now, the Vols are riding a 12-game winning streak and are 16-1 on the season. The Vols’ 12 victories in a row are tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in school history, and it’s the longest since the 1976-77 season. Tennessee’s 16-1 mark to start the season is tied with the 2007-08 team and the 2000-01 team for the best start to a season in program history since UT joined the SEC in 1931.
Tennessee has only ever been ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll once before, and it lasted only a week. After No. 2 Tennessee took down No. 1 Memphis on the road, the Vols soard to No. 1 in the rankings that next Monday. But then Tennessee traveled over to Vanderbilt and lost 72-69 to the No. 18 Commodores.
Guess who is waiting for the Vols this Wednesday?
Tennessee’s first game as the No. 1 team in the country this season will be Vanderbilt, just like it was back in 2008. The Vols will be in Nashville on Wednesday to take on a Commodores squad that has lost five-straight games and is 0-5 in SEC play for the first time in school history.
This Commodores team isn’t like the one in 2008, but the parallels can’t be ignored.
But Tennessee is ranked higher than any other team in college basketball right now, and they’ve gotten here because of a dominating start to the season. Only three of the Vols’ 17 games this season have been closer than double digits. Tennessee’s wins over then-No. 1 Gonzaga (76-73) and Alabama (71-68) have come by three points, and the Vols lost by six points (87-81) to then-No. 2 Kansas in overtime. Otherwise, every other game the Vols have won this season has come by at least 10 points.
The Vols will get a chance to not repeat history on Wednesday night when they face-off with Vanderbilt at 7:00 PM Eastern in Nashville. The game has already sold out.