After suffering their second loss in their last three games, Tennessee’s chances of earning their first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in school history are slipping away.
The Vols (24-3, 12-2 SEC) fell from No. 5 to No. 7 in the latest AP Poll update on Monday after losing to No. 13 LSU 82-80 in overtime on Saturday. The loss marked Tennessee’s second loss in a week. Their first came last Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky when the Wildcats handed the Vols an 86-69 defeat.
Before Saturday’s game, Tennessee was still in line for a No. 1 seed according to most NCAA Tournament bracket projections. Now, the Vols have slipped down to the two-seed line in most bracketology updates.
According to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, the Vols are now projected to be the No. 2 seed in the South region of this year’s NCAA Tournament. He has Tennessee playing a rematch of their second round game in last year’s tournament, taking on a 15-seed Loyola-Chicago squad. Palm moved Kentucky up to a one-seed, and he still has Duke as the No. 1 overall seed despite their blowout loss to North Carolina last week.
Gonzaga and Virginia are Palm’s other No. 1 seeds. He has Virginia as the one-seed in the South region, the same region UT is in.
USA Today Sports also has the Vols as a No. 2 seed in the South region and the Cavaliers as the top seed in that region, and they also have Tennessee playing a rematch game. Those projections have the Vols playing the exact same team they opened up the 2018 NCAA Tournament against: Wright State. A three-seeded Tennessee beat No. 14 seed Wright State 73-47 in the first round of last year’s tournament.
Bracketville lists Tennessee as a two-seed in the South taking on Wright State as a 15-seed as well.
Interestingly, TeamRankings.com gives the Vols the best chance of nabbing the top No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year. They place Tennessee as the top team in the three-seed line ahead of Michigan, Kansas, and Marquette. Those projections list Gonzaga, North Carolina, Houston, and LSU as the two-seeds. Virginia is listed as their team with the best chance of getting the top overall seed, and Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State round out their projected one-seeds.
Tennessee’s average seed on TeamRankings’ projections is a 3.1 seed. Their projections give the Vols only an 8.6 percent chance of earning a one-seed now. The Vols have a 29.7 percent shot at being a three-seed and a 26.6 percent chance of being a two-seed as everything currently stands.
According to the Bracket Matrix, a site that compiles data from dozens of online NCAA Tournament bracket projections, the Vols are still a No. 1 seed in two of the 74 bracket projections that have been updated since Saturday’s slate of games finished up. Those two are from The Bracket Prophet and SportSentiment.com. Tennessee is as low as a four-seed in two of the 74 projections. Those two projections are from KPI Sports and Jordan Schwartz.
The Vols are a two-seed in 63 of the 74 updated projections, and they’re a three-seed in seven of those updated bracketology predictions.
The Vols have never earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve twice earned a two-seed in the tournament, and last year saw Tennessee earn their first ever three-seed in the tournament.
Tennessee is 3-2 all-time as a No. 2 seed and made it to the Sweet Sixteen as a two-seed in 2008. The Vols are 1-1 all-time as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.