Tennessee fell to No. 5 in the AP Poll on Monday after their 17-point loss on the road to Kentucky. The Vols had been No. 1 in the poll for the past four weeks, but their 19-game winning streak came crashing down in Lexington on Saturday night.
So how are the Vols faring in NCAA Tournament bracket projections after the loss?
For the most part, Tennessee (23-2, 11-1 SEC) remains a favorite to land a one-seed when the tournament starts later on in March. The Vols are still a No. 1 seed in Jerry Palm’s bracketology on CBS Sports, USA Today Sports still has them as a one-seed, and Bracketville also lists Tennessee as a No. 1 seed.
The big difference now, however, is that Tennessee is considered a likely one-seed in the Midwest region rather than the South or competing for the top overall seed in the East region.
All three of the bracket projections mentioned above have the Vols as the top seed in the Midwest region. If the Vols were to make it to the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight in the Midwest, they would be playing in Kansas City, Missouri for those rounds. If they were in the South region, they would play in Louisville, Kentucky, and the East region has the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games being played in Washington D.C. this year.
According to Bracket Matrix, a site that compiles a list of NCAA Tournament bracket projections and gives the average seeding of each team, Tennessee has an average seed of 1.22 across 111 brackets they’ve pulled info from. The Vols are listed as a one-seed in 92 of the bracket projections, a two-seed in 15 of them, and a three-seed in four projections.
Per the projections from TeamRankings.com, Tennessee is now on the outside looking in at a one-seed. Those projections have the Vols as a two-seed, and they aren’t even the top two-seed according to their predictions.
TeamRankings.com gives the Vols a 31 percent chance of earning a No. 1 seed in the tournament this year. That’s the seventh-best odds, trailing Duke (93 percent), Virginia (71 percent), Gonzaga (45 percent), Kentucky (39 percent), Michigan State (34 percent), and Houston (32 percent).
Those projections give the Vols a 34.5 percent chance of getting a two-seed compared to a 31.3 percent shot at nabbing a one-seed. Those projections also give the Vols a 40.5 percent chance of making it to the Elite Eight and a 20.9 percent chance of making it to the Final Four, but those numbers will change drastically as the bracket actually gets filled out.
According to TeamRankings’ estimations, the Vols will finish the regular season with a 27-4 record. Those projections do, however, give the Vols a better than 50 percent chance of winning all their remaining games except for their road contest against Auburn.
Tennessee’s odds to beat the remaining six teams on their regular season schedule are as follows: vs. Vanderbilt (96.8 percent), vs. Mississippi State (81.4 percent), at Ole Miss (66.6 percent), vs. Kentucky (65.1 percent), at LSU (56.1 percent), and at Auburn (42.9 percent).
Their projections think Tennessee will win the SEC regular season title, if only slightly. Those predictions think UT will finish with a 15-3 conference record, just edging out 14-4 records from LSU and Kentucky. The Vols have a 44.4 percent chance of winning the regular season title and a 30.3 percent chance of winning the SEC Tournament.
Tennessee, of course, has never been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they’ve twice earned a two-seed. Last year, the Vols were awarded a No. 3 seed for the first time in school history.
The Vols get back out on the court on Tuesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena when they take on Vanderbilt (9-16, 0-12 SEC) at 8:00 PM Eastern.