Tennessee now knows who they’ll be facing and what their seeding is for the upcoming 2020 SEC Tournament in Nashville next week.
With the Vols’ 85-63 loss to Auburn to close out the regular season, Tennessee finished 17-14 overall and 9-9 in SEC play in the regular season. The loss to the Tigers clinched the eight-seed for UT, but they still wouldn’t know who their opponent was until later in the day.
Now, Tennessee knows.
With Alabama losing 69-50 to Missouri and Texas A&M beating Arkansas 77-69 on Saturday, the Tide grabbed the nine-seed while Arkansas stays at the 10-seed and the Aggies secure the seven-seed. The Vols will face Alabama in their first game of the SEC Tournament on Thursday, March 12th.
Tennessee and Alabama (16-14, 8-10 SEC) will square-off in the first game of the tournament in Nashville on Thursday, tipping off at 1:00 PM Eastern/Noon Central. The winner of that game will face one-seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals on Friday at 1:00 Eastern.
The Vols and Tide faced off once this season, and Tennessee won in dramatic fashion on the road in Tuscaloosa. UT trailed by as much as 15 against Alabama but roared back in the second half to take a 54-53 lead with 8:22 to go. The two teams would battle back-and-forth for the remainder of the game until Yves Pons hit a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining to put the Vols up 69-65. A Kira Lewis made three-pointer at the buzzer made the final score 69-68.
Alabama enters Thursday’s match-up having lost two-straight games to end the regular season, and they lost eight of their final 12 games to close out the regular season. The Tide were 12-7 after a 77-74 victory over Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, but they lost three-straight immediately after and never strung together two-straight wins for the remainder of the season.
Tennessee, meanwhile, had won two-straight impressive contests before falling to Auburn by 22 points on Saturday. The Vols hung on to beat Florida at home last Saturday then went on the road and upset No. 6 Kentucky 81-73 in Rupp Arena. But the Vols’ loss to Auburn put a damper on what was looking like a strong finish to the season.
All-time, Tennessee is just 5-10 against Alabama in the SEC Tournament. The Vols lost the last time they played the Tide in the conference tournament, falling 58-48 back in 2013. Tennessee’s last win over Bama in the SEC Tournament came in 2009, an 86-62 victory.
Since the SEC did away with divisions for the 2011-12 season, Tennessee has never been the eight-seed in the SEC Tournament. The Vols have been a 12-seed, a 10-seed, and a nine-seed before, but never the eight-seed under the current format.
The Vols have advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament in two-straight seasons. As the two-seed in 2018, Tennessee beat 7-seed Mississippi State and 6-seed Arkansas before falling 77-72 to 4-seed Kentucky in the finals. In 2019, three-seed Tennessee beat 6-seed Mississippi State and 2-seed Kentucky en route to the title game, where they eventually lost 84-64 to 5-seed Auburn.
Tennessee hasn’t won the SEC Tournament since 1979.
Here’s a look at how the 2020 SEC Tournament bracket lays out.