Committee Snubs Tennessee in NCAA Tournament Seeding

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    Tennessee Lands as Three-Seed

    The Tennessee Volunteers have officially been given a No. 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

    After winning the SEC Tournament championship just hours before the selection committee made their announcement, the Vols’ seeding came in surprisingly low. It wasn’t a guarantee that Tennessee was going to end up as the final No. 1 seed in the tournament, but it did seem as though the Vols were set up to get a No. 2 seed at worst.

    Now, the SEC Tournament champion Tennessee Volunteers will be a No. 3 seed in the South region. Tennessee will take on No. 14 Longwood (26-6, 15-1 Big South) in the first round of the tournament.

    Following the announcement of the full bracket on Sunday, ESPN tournament analyst Joe Lunardi had some alarming comments regarding Tennessee and the conference championship games.

    “The first thing I’ll say is that I get the frustration, but I absolutely knew it was going to shake out this way,” ESPN’s Lunardi said about Tennessee during the Bracketology show on Sunday. “These Sunday games, year after year after year, don’t matter.”

    Lunardi’s point was, essentially, that the brackets are already set before the conference championships even happen.

    “I don’t think we would move any of the one seeds off for Tennessee,” Lunardi said.

    ESPN’s Jay Bilas disagreed with Lunardi, though, and even challenged him on Tennessee’s seed.

    “I don’t see [Tennessee] as a three,” Bilas said during the Bracketology show. “I thought they were in the mix for a two or one… Winning the conference tournament should mean something.”

    Villanova, a team that beat Tennessee in Madison Square Garden in the third game of the season in December, is the No. 2 seed in Tennessee’s region.

    In addition, No. 6 seed Cincinnati, No. 10 Loyola-Chicago, and No. 11 seed Michigan are also in the South region with Tennessee.

    According to Tennessee Basketball statistics expert Will Warren, the Vols have the second-highest chances to advance to the Final Four in the region at 19.5 percent.

    The seeding is confusing, to be frank. The Auburn Tigers were awarded a two-seed in the Midwest region, and while they did win the SEC regular season, the Tigers fell in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Not to mention, Tennessee beat Auburn in their one head-to-head matchup this year. To really highlight the Tigers’ late-season slide, Auburn has lost four out of their final nine games before the NCAA tournament.

    That’s puzzling.

    Then the committee has Kentucky coming in as a No. 2 seed in the East region. Tennessee has two head-to-head wins against Kentucky this year, including in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The Vols were dominant in that game, only trailing to Kentucky for 59 seconds during that game before sending the Wildcats packing. Tennessee had a better record than Kentucky by the end of the regular season, as well.

    That’s puzzling, too. The definition of a snub is to ignore someone or something, and it’s clear that many of Tennessee’s head-to-head matchups were ignored by the selection committee. Kentucky and Auburn being above a Tennessee team that just won the SEC Championship for the first time in 43 years while playing their best basketball is just shocking.

    In total, Tennessee has seven Top 20 wins on the season: No. 18 North Carolina, No. 6 Arizona, No. 13 LSU, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 3 Auburn, No. 14 Arkansas, and No. 5 Kentucky again.

    As shown by Warren’s tweet below, Tennessee has more quadrant-one wins than two-seed Villanova and two-seed Duke.

    This story will be updated with more statistics.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.