The Vols, capitalizing on Kansas’ three-game losing streak, moved up from the two-line to become the last one-seed in Joe Lunardi’s late January update.
Rick Barnes’ eighth Tennessee team bounced back from a disappointing loss against rival Kentucky by earning road wins at Mississippi State and LSU to improve to 16-3 (6-1 SEC).
Tennessee is the No. 1 seed in the East Region and would play in Greensboro the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. In the projection, the Vols face off against No. 16 seed Sienna in the first round before facing either eight-seed Clemson or nine-seed Wisconsin in the Round of 32.
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The other top seeds in the East Region include No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Virginia, No. 4 Marquette and No. 5 Rutgers. SEC foes Auburn is also the sixth seed in the East Region. For Tennessee to make a run to the Final Four in Houston, the Vols would likely have to beat some combination of the Jayhawks, Cavaliers, Golden Eagles and Scarlett Knights at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Tennessee is one of six SEC teams projected to make “The Big Dance” including one-seed Alabama, six-seed Auburn, eight-seed Arkansas, 10-seed Missouri and 12-seed Kentucky. The Wildcats are one of the last four teams in the field while Florida is on the bubble in the “next four out.”
Tennessee returns home to Thompson-Boling Arena this week where they’ll face Georgia Wednesday and No. 10 Texas Saturday. The Longhorns are the No. 10 team in the country and College Gameday is coming to Knoxville for the Big 12/SEC Challenge battle.
Tip-off between the Vols and Georgia Wednesday night is at 7 p.m. ET. Dave Neal and Jon Sundvold are on the call for the SEC Network.