Tennessee picked up two high-quality wins this past week, and they’ve moved back into the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament because of that.
The Vols (26-3, 14-2 SEC) rose to No. 5 in the updated AP Poll on Monday after picking up a quality road win over Ole Miss on Wednesday and dominating Kentucky on Saturday, and they also climbed back to a one-seed in a lot of NCAA Tournament bracket projections. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports held true to his word from Saturday night and put the Vols as a No. 1 seed in his updated bracketology over the weekend, placing the Vols as the top seed in the Midwest region of the bracket. Virginia is his top overall seed, and Duke and Gonzaga are his other one-seeds.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still believes Tennessee is destined for a two-seed, though.
In Lunardi’s updated bracketology after Saturday’s games, he still places Kentucky in as a one-seed and has the Vols as a No. 2 seed. Lunardi has Tennessee as the two-seed in the South region, the same region that has Duke as the one-seed. He also projects Tennessee to have a rematch with their first round opponent from last year, Wright State.
Over at Bracketville, the Vols are listed as a one-seed in the Midwest region. USA Today Sports also has the Vols slated as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, and Haslemetrics.com includes the Vols in its one-seed grouping along with Virginia, Duke, and Michigan.
According to TeamRankings.com, the Vols are still projected as a two-seed, but they’ve risen up a bit over the last week. A week ago, Team Rankings had Tennessee as a three-seed in their projections. Now, the Vols are listed as the third No. 2 seed and have a 24.5 percent chance of earning a one-seed. Their projections give Tennessee a 37.3 percent shot at being a two-seed and a 26.4 percent chance of earning a bid as a three-seed. Right now, Team Rankings gives the Vols a 37.7 percent chance of winning the remainder of their regular season games and a 26.2 percent shot of winning the SEC regular season title outright.
Per the Bracket Matrix, a site that compiles data from dozens of online bracketology projections, the Vols are projected by most sites to earn a one-seed. Tennessee has earned an average seeding of 1.58 on Bracket Matrix, and they’re projected as a No. 1 seed by 45 of the 84 brackets that have been updated since Saturday’s games. The Vols are a two-seed in 35 of the 84 updated brackets, and four different bracketology projections list Tennessee as a possible three-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee has never been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in school history. The Vols have twice been a No. 2 seed and earned their first-ever No. 3 seed in the tournament last year.
After beating both Ole Miss and Kentucky this past week, the Vols are now 8-3 vs. Quadrant 1 opponents. A Quadrant 1 game is one that’s played at home against a team ranked between 1-30 in the RPI, on a neutral court against a team ranked between 1-50 in the RPI, or on the road against a team ranked between 1-75 in the RPI.
The Vols will have two more chances in the regular season to earn Quadrant 1 victories before the start of the SEC Tournament. Tennessee hosts Mississippi State on Tuesday night and will go on the road at Auburn on Saturday. The Bulldogs rank No. 22 in the latest NET rankings — the new rating system used by the NCAA Selection Committee this year — while Auburn comes in at No. 20 in the rankings. Both teams are ranked inside the top-30 of the RPI at this point as well.