Meanwhile, Tennessee falls to 16-11, 6-6 in the SEC. The Vols would have to win out to avoid having the most regular season losses of any of Pearl's teams here. Tennessee's RPI and SOS will still be very high...but the Vols are also just 9-11 since the win at Pittsburgh, and just 1-3 since Bruce Pearl returned to the bench.
The Vols play at Vanderbilt on short rest at 9PM on Tuesday. That gives very little time to find the answer to "how are we going to find offense without using the name Hopson?" Little known fact: Vanderbilt's gym was actually the end product of a once-failed architectural student who ended up as a successful businessman and large donor (You want my money, build MY arena). But the gimmick worked and it's a hard place to coach at a time when UT needs active bench coaching. UT LOSS.
Mississippi State comes to TBA next. Nothing in MSU's performance suggests that the Vols should lose to the Bullpuppies, except MSU recently beat Florida - something we should have done twice and didn't manage to pull off on either occasion. UT WIN
Then comes the gift of South Carolina, but the game is on the road. We should beat the Gamecocks again because the talent differential lets us play average ball or in spurts and still win. UT WIN.
Then the season-ending loss to Kentucky in our own gym (despite Coach Cal handicapping UK) heading into the SEC Tournament and a first round game on Thursday.
So, we end the regular season at 18-13 (8-8) and 11-13 since Pitt. More importantly, we have no momentum going into the tournament and the NCAA is a lot about momentum. It may take two or three wins (20 or 21 wins) in the SEC tourney to get us solidly into the NCAA tournament.
Glass half full? Probably, but the RPI and record have to be balanced against the lack of momentum and the fact that the Tennessee BasketVols just aren't that good right now.