Tennessee Basketball: Next Two Games to Make or Break Vols’ NCAA Tournament Hopes
Tennessee basketball is set for a huge week against two opponents who will make or break the Volunteers’ NCAA Tournament chances.
Two weeks ago, Tennessee basketball took a huge step onto the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. It started with the first major quality win of the year for the Vols over the Kentucky Wildcats. And it followed with what we said was the most important win at the time over the Kansas State Wildcats.
After splitting two road games last week, the Vols are back in action with two crucial home games this week.
And make no mistake, these two home games against the Ole Miss Rebels and Georgia Bulldogs make for the most important week of the Tennessee basketball season. They need to win both games.
Currently, Tennessee sits at No. 37 in the RPI with the No. 3 ranked strength of schedule. Ole Miss and Georgia are No. 59 and No. 63 respectively in the RPI.
So these are two major bubble teams.
Let’s start with the fact that these are chances for two more solid wins, and with both games at home, they are wins the selection committee would expect an NCAA Tournament team to win.
On top of that, though, comes the fact that the Vols are in competition with both teams to reach the tournament.
With the No. 5 conference rank in the RPI, the SEC is only going to have so many teams in the SEC Tournament. And the South Carolina Gamecocks, Florida Gators, and Kentucky Wildcats are all already in.
So Tennessee is in a pack with numerous other teams to get to the tournament, but the Rebels, Bulldogs, and Arkansas Razorbacks are their fiercest competition.
Against those three teams, the Vols are already 0-2 with losses to the Rebels and Hogs.
This is their only chance to beat any of those teams.
The Tennessee-Georgia game Saturday will be the Vols’ only regular season match-up against the Dawgs unless the two teams meet in the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Vols already lost to the Rebels on the road. It’ll be really hard for them to make an NCAA Tournament case over Ole Miss if Ole Miss sweeps them.
Schedule strength is the only thing keeping Tennessee in the Top 40 of the RPI. But they need to actually sell having wins over teams they are in NCAA Tournament competition with if they are going to get to the Big Dance.
And that makes this week huge for the Vols. These are two home games against teams fighting with them to get to the postseason.
Rick Barnes’s group has no excuse not to win both.
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