The college basketball season is swiftly moving through January, which means that the March Madness tournament is drawing closer and closer. Currently, with seven conference games in the rear-view mirror, the Tennessee Basketball team is sitting at No. 6 in the SEC rankings.
Turning the page to some early tournament projections, though, many publications have Tennessee slotted somewhere interesting in the tournament.
According to ESPN on Jan. 21, the Vols have a No. 5 seed in Joe Lunardi’s most recent rankings. This sets Tennessee up with a game against either Florida State or TCU depending on the winner of the 12-seed play-in game.
ESPN’s projections have Tennessee in the West region taking place in San Francisco. In the Vols’ projected region is No. 1 seed Gonzaga, No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 3 seed UCLA, and No. 4 seed Xavier.
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On the other hand, CBS Sports’ projected bracket, which was updated on Monday, has Tennessee one spot lower. According to Jerry Palm’s CBS projection, Tennessee has the No. 6 seed in the East region (Philadelphia).
In Palm’s projection, Tennessee will be squaring off against No. 11 seed Wake Forest.
CBS Sports’ East region is loaded with talent and is not short on former Tennessee connections. The No. 1 seed in the East region is Kansas, a team that Tennessee has lost to twice in the last three years. Additionally, the No. 2 seed is Duke, and the No. 3 seed is Purdue, the team that eliminated Tennessee from the Sweet 16 in 2019. Not to mention, the Vols’ football loss to Purdue in the Music City Bowl is still fresh on Tennessee fans’ minds.
The fourth seed in Palm’s East region is Villanova, a team that beat Tennessee in November, and the fifth seed is longtime rival Kentucky, who just put up 107 points on Tennessee in January.
It’s safe to say that Palm’s projection is full of skeletons in the Tennessee closet from the past few seasons.
The Vols still have time in the season to gain some steam and advance in the projections. Plus, in reality, Tennessee’s back-half of the season actually sets up nicely for a small run before the tournaments.
Tennessee Basketball will be back on the court this Wednesday night in Knoxville when they host Florida at 6:00 p.m. ET.