Back on the bubble? Well, the idea that Tennessee is a "lock" for the NCAA tournament might have taken a hit on Saturday. I say "might have" because it's not like losing on the road in the SEC is any big deal, as road teams in the conference went 1-5 Saturday. That includes Kentucky falling at Alabama and Vandy shocking Florida in Nashville. The only league team that won on the road Saturday was Mississippi State, who pulled out a 56-50 win at LSU.
While I can't speak for the rest of the SEC, I can tell you that Tennessee had it all backwards in Columbia Saturday. Check out the stats:
|Field Goals||21-55 (38%)||29-54 (54%)|
|3-Point FGs||6-20 (30%)||13-28 (46%)|
|Free Throws||16-21 (76%)||10-15 (67%)|
|Rebounds||37 (14 off, 23 def)||28 (4 off, 24 def)|
The things the Vols do well when they win (3-pointers, assists, forcing turnovers) were done better by the Gamecocks. The irony is that while free throws and rebounds have been a frustrating hindrance for the Vols this season, Tennessee finally outperformed their competition in those categories, and it didn't matter.
So now with the Vols sitting at 6-6 in the SEC and 18-9 overall, let's look at what they've got left on the schedule:
- 2/21 Alabama (#23 RPI as of Feb. 18)
- 2/24 @ Arkansas (#41)
- 2/27 Florida (#7)
- 3/03 @ Georgia (#51)
The bottom line is that for the Vols to finish at that magic .500 point we've been talking about for a while, they'll either need to win on the road (something they haven't done yet) or beat Florida (something only three teams have done all year). So it looks like the Vols still have some work to do before we put a lock on the bubble talk.