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Tennessee Basketball Amidst Unprecedented Program Run In AP Top 25

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Rick Barnes has done a lot of great things for the Tennessee basketball program in his nine-years as the Vols’ head coach. Chief amongst them is Tennessee’s consistency as one of the SEC and nation’s best programs.

After landing at No. 6 in the Christmas Day AP Poll, Tennessee has been in the Associated Press Top 25 for 46 consecutive weeks. The streak dates back to the final AP Poll of the 2020-21 season. It marks the longest stretch of appearances in the AP Top 25 in program history.

Tennessee was in the AP Top 25 every week during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons and have been in the top 25 the first eight weeks of this season. Despite not ending the 2020-21 season in the top 25, the Vols spent the majority of that season in the AP Poll. In fact, the Vols have been in the top 25 for 60 of the last 63 weeks.

The Vols peaked in the AP Poll at No. 2 last February during their 46-week stretch in the top 25. Their lowest ranking during the two-plus year stretch is No. 24 in January of 2022. Tennessee has ranked in the top six of the AP Poll at one point in each of the last four seasons.

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Tennessee made its first appearance in the AP Poll under Barnes in early December of his third season (2017-18) and peaked at No. 1 in the rankings for four weeks spanning from January to February of 2019. Before the Vols landed in the AP Poll in December 2017, the Vols hadn’t been in the top 25 since December 2011.

Barnes’ consistent and sustained success at Tennessee has been extremely impressive for a program that has had short bursts of success but has largely struggled to sustain it for years at a time.

The veteran head coach’s shortcoming in Knoxville is achieving less NCAA Tournament success than he or fans would like. Still, Tennessee has made the NCAA Tournament in five of Barnes’ first eight seasons and will make it six in nine years barring a major collapse this winter.

In those five NCAA Tournaments, Tennessee has won six total games and have two of the program’s nine Sweet 16 appearances.

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