Joe Lunardi Takes a Shot at Tennessee Fans, Advances Vols to Final Four

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    ESPN Bracketology analyst Joe Lunardi is certainly trying to extend his moment in the spotlight with those in Knoxville.

    On Monday, ESPN released their latest “My Bracket” video to YouTube, which featured Lunardi going through a 2022 March Madness bracket and making his picks with Jason Fitz.

    During the seven-minute segment, Lunardi simultaneously propped up the Vols’ basketball team while he subtlety put the Tennessee fans on blast. Lunardi began the South Region by picking “ever-popular Tennessee” over Longwood, followed by a win over Michigan.

    “And then we’ll go, let’s see, [No. 3] Tennessee over [No. 2] Villanova,” Lunardi said while selecting his winner in the Sweet 16.

    “Nobody will be complaining about seeding at that point,” Fitz replied. “So that leaves us [No. 4] Illinois and Tennessee, Joe. What do you got?”

    “Going the Vols,” Lunardi said while picking Tennessee to advance to the Final 4. “How about that! After all that haggling yesterday, maybe they should leave the bracketing to us.”

    “And, well, if they don’t like the seed, they can always prove it on the court,” Fitz said.

    Lunardi has Tennessee losing in the Final Four to the Midwest Region’s No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks.

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    After the brackets were revealed on Sunday night, many questioned Joe Lunardi as to why he was so confident that Tennessee wasn’t going to get a spot on the two-line. Lunardi made the statement during the selection show that the conference tournament games, especially those held on Sunday, don’t carry much weight.

    “These Sunday games, year after year after year, don’t matter,” Lunardi said during the Selection Show..

    That statement baffled quite a few basketball analysts and fans alike. While the logic behind that certainly doesn’t add up, it is easy to see how that is exactly the line of thinking the selection committee has.

    “When you look at it, to answer your question, everybody said that we were a 3-seed going into the SEC Tournament, so it certainly doesn’t look like the tournament helped us,” Tennessee head coach Barnes said on Monday.

    Barnes is exactly right in this situation. Tennessee was projected as a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament before sweeping the SEC Tournament with a decisive win over eventual two-seed Kentucky, who was seeded behind them in the conference tournament. The Vols emerged from Tampa with their first SEC Championship since 1979 and the new No. 5 ranking in the AP Poll… yet why did none of that matter to the committee?

    Unfortunately, that’s a question that no one will really ever get the answer to. But Barnes believes there should be a way for that to happen.

    “I do believe that after Selection Sunday that the chairman or people of the committee should have to have a national day of press conferences so that (the media) can ask questions, not just for two or three minutes, from people that really cover college basketball throughout (the season),” Barnes said on Monday. “When you look at it, to answer your question, everybody said that we were a 3-seed going into the SEC Tournament, so it certainly doesn’t look like the tournament helped us. Certainly, I don’t understand how a team in the SEC that wins 12 games like Texas A&M, and is playing great basketball at the end (of the season), not being in the tournament. It just baffles me, it really does.”

    Below is the clip of Joe Lunardi talking Tennessee in his bracket from ESPN’s YouTube. The clip mentioned at the beginning begins at 4:30. The selected portion will start automatically below.

    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.